Ranking Every ‘Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror Segment, From Worst to First
#32. “Bart’s Nightmare,” Treehouse of Horror II
Plot: Springfield is terrified of Bart, because he’s able to read minds and other omnipotent abilities, like the power to turn Homer into a jack-in-the-box.
Reason for Ranking: It’s pretty good, and totally in character for Bart having a bad dream about getting along with Homer, but not as awesome as the video game Bart’s Nightmare or as terrifying as the Tracey Ullman short, “Bart’s Nightmare.”
Memorable Quote: “Well, class the history of our country has been changed again, to correspond with Bart’s answers on yesterday’s test. America was now discovered in 1942 by…Some Guy. And our country isn’t called America anymore. It’s Bonerland.”
#31. “Desperately Xeeking Xena,” Treehouse of Horror X
Plot: Due to a freak accident, Stretch Dude Bart and Clobber Girl Lisa have superhuman abilities. Their first bad guy to hunt down: The Collector, who has taken Lucy Lawless for his collection.
Reason for Ranking: If Bart was a superhero, he would use his powers mostly for good, but also for pranks, and this segment does a good job of keeping consistent to the character, something that’s tough to do in a Treehouse episode. Plus, Lucy Lawless.
Memorable Quote: “In episode BF12, you were battling barbarians while riding a winged Appaloosa, yet in the very next scene, my dear, you’re clearly atop a winged Arabian. Please do explain it.” “Ah, yeah, well, whenever you notice something like that, a wizard did it.”
Reason for Ranking: There’s a really dumb ending, involving the Bewitched theme and Dennis Rodman discussing the perils of adult illiteracy, but everything before that is a lot of fun, with the Bumblebee Man turning into a bumblebee and Lisa into Albert Einstein. The segment also involves Maggie, and that doesn’t happen often.
Memorable Quote: “Now, which one of our beloved regulars are you? Lindsey Naegle? Helen Lovejoy? Old Jewish Man?”
#29. “It’s the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse,” Treehouse of Horror XIX
Plot: Milhouse’s wishes come true when the Grand Pumpkin turns out to be real, but he’s super pissed that humans carve up his kind for FUN. There’s only one creature who can save the town now: Tom Turkey, at least until he hears what we do to turkeys…
Reason for Ranking: Begins as a simple Peanuts parody, but becomes a funny story in itself and successfully integrates another holiday, which doesn’t always work.
Memorable Quote: “Touch me and I’ll cut your friend.” “What do I care? That’s a yellow pumpkin.” “You’re a racist!” “All pumpkins are racist. The difference is that I admit it.” “I’d rather die than hate!”
#28. “I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did,” Treehouse of Horror X
Plot: Marge accidentally hits and kills Flanders while he’s on of his fog walks. Homer decides that the only reasonable course of action is to stage Ned’s death. After convincing Maude that her husband has passed, the Simpsons find the phrase, “I KNOW WHAT YOU DID” all over their house.
Reason for Ranking: For a solid month after this episode aired, I sung, “Guess I forgot to put the foglights in,” to the tune of Golden Crisp theme song, every day. It was an unbearable time to be around me.
Memorable Quote: “Neddy? Where have you been?” “Hi Maude-diddily. I’ve been having fun with my pal Homer. Diddily.” “Oh, I’m so relieved. Whenever you go on one of your late-night fog walks I get so worried.” “Relax, I’m fine. But when I do die, I don’t want any autopsies!
Reason for Ranking: It’s a lot fun seeing which animals the residents of Springfield are turned into. Homer is, naturally, a walrus, but the Squeaky-Voiced Teen and Luigi becoming a donkey and guinea pig, respectively, are clever choices.
Memorable Quote: “The House of Pain? I guess this is where you pay the bill. Why am I always funny when no one’s around?”
Reason for Ranking: Kang and Kodos are so good in this segment that they’ve appeared in every Treehouse since.
Memorable Quote: “We offered you paradise. You would have experienced emotions a hundred times greater than what you call love. And a thousand times greater than what you call fun. You would have been treated like gods and lived forever in beauty. But now, because of your distrustful nature, that can never be.” “For a superior race, they really rub it in.”
#25. “Fly vs. Fly,” Treehouse of Horror VIII
Plot: Homer buys a transporter from a garage sale, using it to fetch beer and go to the bathroom with more efficiency. One night, he tries to transport himself and a fly, thinking they’ll become some kind of superhero, but they’re instead mutated into a giant fly, with a human body.
Reason for Ranking: The writers probably chose a fly just for the segment title pun, but that’s fine, because it works. It’s believable that Bart would think he could take a short cut towards becoming a superhero. I also like the threat “I’ll axe you good” a lot.
Memorable Quote: “Hey, dad, can I use the transporter sometimes? Please, I swear I’ll be careful!” “Sorry, but this is a highly sophisti-ma-cated doo-wacky. If you don’t use it responsibly, KA-BLAM-O!”
#24. “The Terror of Tiny Toon,” Treehouse of Horror IX
Plot: Bart uses a piece of plutonium as a battery for the remote control, which results in him and Lisa being sucked into the TV, where the encounter their favorite cat and mouse duo, Worker and Parasite—I mean, Itchy and Scratchy!
Reason for Ranking: It’s always fun when The Simpsons acknowledge that they’re, in fact, a cartoon. The more eye-popping, the better, and it’s amazing that it took them until the ninth Treehouse to have the characters interact with Itchy and Scratchy.
Memorable Quote: “Oh, Homer you’re not going as a hobo again?” “Going where?”
#23. “Night of the Dolphin,” Treehouse of Horror XI
Plot: Lisa lets a dolphin named Snorky escape from Marine World, because his trainers taunt and humiliate him for our amusement. The fugitive tells his underwater buddies what the humans have been doing to their kind. Things get real ugly real quick for our race.
Reason for Ranking: Some day, when the dolphins rise from the seas and are about to kill us all, this sketch will seem a lot less funny and a lot more prophetic. Until then: OMG THE DOLPHINS ARE TALKING. NOW GO HIT A BALL WITH YOUR DOLPHIN NOSE.
Memorable Quote: “Bottlenose bruises. Blowhole burns. Flipper prints. This looks like the work of rowdy teens. Lou, cancel the prom.”
Reason for Ranking: It’s funny enough to be higher, but the fact that Family Guy had pretty much already done the same plot, with superior results (Norm Macdonald as the Reaper), knocks “Madness” down a little.
Memorable Quote: “Death, we miss you so much! You were a busboy in the restaurant of life, clearing away the oldies and the sickies and the junkies. And you made NASCAR racing exciting!”
#21. “Terror at 5½ Feet,” Treehouse of Horror IV
Plot: A gremlin is slowly tearing apart a Springfield Elementary bus. Bart cries wolf, the morning after dreaming about dying in a bus crash, but no one believes him.
Reason for Ranking: Not only is the script solid, the animation is perfect. Without a rainy, grey, dull atmosphere, “Terror” wouldn’t have worked.
Memorable Quote: “Hey Bart, look. Krusty trading cards. The long-awaited Eight Series.” “Krusty visits relatives in Annapolis, Maryland. Krusty poses for trading card photo.” “Hm…he seems to be running a little low on ideas.”
#20. “Bart Simpson’s Dracula,” Treehouse of Horror IV
Plot: Mr. Burns bites Bart, turning the boy into a vampire. Soon, many of Springfield’s residents are also creatures of the nights, and Lisa swears to kill the Head Vampire.
Reason for Ranking: It’s not often that a Treehouse sketch is creepy, but the sight of Bart hovering outside of Lisa’s bedroom used to give me the chills. I also really like the episode’s final reveal, about who the Head Vampire actually is.
Memorable Quote: “The only way to get Bart back is to kill the head vampire: Mr. Burns!” “Kill my boss? Do I dare to live out the American dream?”
#19. “Dial ‘Z’ For Zombies,” Treehouse of Horror III
Plot: Dead bodies from the local cemetery come back to life after Bart utters an incantation from The Time Life Book of Magic and Spells, Vol. II. The zombies take over the town, and take out Principal Skinner, Krusty the Clown, and others.
Reason for Ranking: Zombies, before zombies became a tiring, pop culture cliche. Also: “He was a zombie?”
Memorable Quote: “Take that, Washington! Eat lead, Einstein! Show’s over, Shakespeare!” “Is this the end of Zombie Shakespeare?”
#18. “The Ned Zone,” Treehouse of Horror XV
Plot: Ned gets hit in the head with a bowling ball, and afterwords, whenever anyone comes in physical contact with him, he sees how they’re going to die. And how Homer’s going to destroy the entire town.
Reason for Ranking: Hans Moleman gets eaten by a group of alligators. I could watch that for hours at a time, and the rest of sketch is incredibly solid, too, including the apocalyptic ending.
Memorable Quote: “If you must kill our dad, remember the family motto: not in the face.”
Reason for Ranking: Fine, I’ll admit it: I love a good leprechaun joke, and this one has leprechaun jokes by the dozen! It also highlights the differences between a goblin and a hobgoblin.
Memorable Quote: “You know, I was hexed by a troll, and a leprechaun cured that right up.” “Hey, you know what’s even better is Jesus. He’s like six leprechauns.” “Yeah, but a lot harder to catch. Go with a leprechaun.”
#16. “The HΩmega Man,” Treehouse of Horror VIII
Plot: The French launch a nucelar bomb towards Springfield, and after it hits, there’s only one man left alive: Homer, who had been inspecting fallout shelters and not understanding Far Side cartoons. Or so he thinks.
Reason for Ranking: The French frog joke is a little obvious, but the premise, and Homer singing Edwin Star’s “War” in church, is good enough to withstand the too easy stereotype.
Memorable Quote: “Now, this baby is called ‘The Withstandinator.’ It can take a six megaton blast. No more, no less.”
#15. “Send In the Clones,” Treehouse of Horror XIII
Plot: Homer’s new hammock is magical, and it creates clones copies of anything or anyone that spins around on it. So, of course, Homer creates multiple copies of himself to shirk doing any responsibilities.
Reason for Ranking: It’s a pretty silly episode, I’ll admit, but the sight of hundreds of Homers is pretty amusing, especially when they take the form of Tracey Ullman Homer, Morbidly Obese Homer, and Peter Griffin Homer, among others.
Memorable Quote: “Let’s all go out for some frosty chocolate milkshakes!”
Reason for Ranking: You know you wanted to try a Jimbo Burger or Üterbraten when you first saw the episode, too.
Memorable Quote: “Relax, kids, I’ve got a GUT feeling Üter is around here. After all, isn’t there a little Üter in all of us? In fact, you might even say we just ATE Üter and he’s in our stomachs right now! Wait…scratch that one.”
#13. “The Genesis Tub,” Treehouse of Horror VII
Plot: Lisa’s science experiment goes even better than expected when instead of finding out whether cola rots a tooth, she instead discovers an entire civilization residing in the tooth’s petri dish.
Reason for Ranking: There aren’t nearly enough Treehouse episodes solely about Lisa, but this one’s so good, with such a fantastically bleak ending, that I can almost look past that. Almost. (“The Genesis Tub” would also be parodied in the South Park episode, “Simpsons Did It.”)
Memorable Quote: “Tiny little people! My God! I’ve created life!” “Lisa! Breakfast! We’re having waffles!” “Ooh! Waffles!”
#12. “Homer³,” Treehouse of Horror VI
Plot: While hiding from Patty and Selma, and their pillowcase full of seashells from Sulfur Bay, Homer stumbles into an alternate dimension, where everything’s in 3D.
Reason for Ranking: Because I remember watching this episode when it first aired in 1995, and thinking, “WOAHHHHH, 3D PRETTY.” Also that it looked very expensive.
Memorable Quote: “I don’t want to alarm you, Marge, but I seem to be trapped in here.” “I better call Ned. He has a ladder.”
Reason for Ranking: Monkeys are funny—Homer as a monkey, even funnier. “King Homer” also contains one of my favorite conversational exchanges on the show (see below).
Memorable Quote: “Hey, I heard we’re goin’ to Ape Island.” “Yeah, to capture a giant ape.” “I wished we were going to Candy Apple Island.” “Candy Apple Island? What do they got there?” “Apes. But they’re not so big.”
Reason for Ranking: “The Raven” was included in the first Treehouse, and it’s the one that people talked about the next day. If not for the skit, with narration from James Earl Jones, who knows if the Halloween episode would have become an annual tradition all these years later?
Memorable Quote: “And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; and my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted—nevermore!”
#9. “The Thing and I,” Treehouse of Horror VII
Plot: Marge, Homer, and Dr. Hibbert tell Bart that his formerly-conjoined twin, Hugo, is living in the attic. He’s been served fish heads by Marge and Homer to keep him alive over the years, but he’s escaped.
Reason for Ranking: Sick and twisted, with a solid conclusion that explains a lot about Bart.
Memorable Quote: “But what to do with poor Hugo? Too crazy for Boy Town, too much of a boy for Crazy Town. The child was an outcast. So, we did the only humane thing.” “We chained Hugo up in the attic like an animal and fed him a bucket of fish heads once a week.” “It saved our marriage.”
Reason for Ranking: It’s the very first “The Simpsons are going to…!” episode, but most people forgot about it, so it’s an easy way to win a bet with a friend who’s a fan of the show. Also, it mocked the idea of The Simpsons as a brand being everywhere before anyone else did, proving yet again how well the writers thought ahead.
Memorable Quote: “Sir, I must strongly advise you: Do not purchase this. Behind every wish lurks grave misfortune. I, myself, was once president of Algeria.” “Come on, pal, I don’t want to hear your life story. Paw me!”
#7. “Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores,” Treehouse of Horror VI
Plot: Homer steals Lard Lad’s gigantic metal doughnut. Due to a freak lightning storm, Mr. Lad and other oversized advertising figures come to life during the night, searching for the missing doughnut and wrecking havoc on Springfield.
Reason for Ranking: “Eyesores” taught me more about the power of advertising in seven minutes than Mad Men has over four seasons.
Memorable Quote: “If your advertising agency created all those giant characters, you must know how to stop them.” “Well sir, advertising is a funny thing. If people stop paying attention to it, pretty soon, it goes away.” “Like that old woman who couldn’t find the beef?” “Exactly.”
#6. “The Devil and Homer Simpson,” Treehouse of Horror IV
Plot: Homer agrees to sell his soul for a doughnut, and Devil Ned Flanders answers. The two go to trial, with a Jury of the Damned, to determine who truly owns Homer’s soul.
Reason for Ranking: Making Christian, do-gooder Ned Flanders the Devil is genius, and Homer picking at his pastry head answers the eternal question, “If you were a giant doughnut, would you eat yourself?”
Memorable Quote: “Who’s that goat-legged fellow? I like the cut of his jib.” “Er, Prince of Darkness, sir. He’s your eleven o’clock.”
#5. “Clown Without Pity,” Treehouse of Horror III
Plot: Homer goes to the House of Evil to buy Bart a birthday present (and maybe pick up some frogurt, too) and settles on a Talking Krusty doll, an EVIL Talking Krusty doll.
Reason for Ranking: Among the show’s many, many, many Twilight Zone spoofs, this one is the funniest and the best, if only because the conclusion is so stupid (obviously the doll shouldn’t be set on Evil!), it’s brilliant.
Memorable Quote: “That doll is EVIL, I tells ya. EVIL. EEEEEEVVVVIILLLLL.” “Grandpa, you said that about all the presents.” “I just want attention…”
Reason for Ranking: It masterfully parodies Presidential elections, and politics in general, by proving it’s all a bunch of shit that doesn’t really matter anyways. Either way, you’re boned. But don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos.
Memorable Quote: “I am looking forward to an orderly election tomorrow, which will eliminate the need for a violent blood bath.”
#3. “The Shinning,” Treehouse of Horror V
Plot: Mr. Burns’ sea monkeys, otherwise known as the Simpsons, arrive to look after his creepy looking lodge. But when he cuts the cable and removes all the beer, Homer starts going something something. Go crazy, perhaps. Oh, and Willie gets hit in the back with an axe, and dies.
Reason for Ranking: Because when you think of The Shining, you think of “The Shinning.”
Memorable Quote: “Come, family. Sit in the snow with Daddy and let us all bask in television’s warm glowing warming glow.”
#2. “Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace,” Treehouse of Horror VI
Plot: Groundskeeper Willie dies in a horrible (and preventable) accident at a PTA meeting, and he vows to get revenge by killing their children…in their dreams.
Reason for Ranking: It’s a pitch-perfect parody of a horror movie classic, yet funny enough that even if you haven’t seen Nightmare on Elm Street (or any of its 1,453 sequels), you can still love it.
Memorable Quote: “It all started on the thirteenth hour, of the thirteenth day, of the thirteenth month…” Stupid Smarch weather, indeed.
#1. “Time and Punishment,” Treehouse of Horror V
Plot: After Homer breaks the toaster, which in itself is after Homer jams his hand into said toaster (twice), he fixes it, and during a test toast, travels through time. He explores alternate realities and learns an important lesson about dinosaurs. Namely, don’t sneeze on them.
Reason for Ranking: The entire reason I wrote this article is because I wanted to include the quote below, one of my all-time favorites from The Simpsons. (I’m getting married next year, and I’ve already requested for one of my friends to repeat it to me.)
Memorable Quote: “OK, don’t panic. Remember the advice your father gave you on your wedding day.” “If you ever travel back in time, don’t step on anything, because even the tiniest change can alter the future in ways you can’t imagine.”
Josh Kurp went a little something something while putting this together.
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