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
- "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.