Top Ten Treehouse of Horror Segments
By Kim Hollis
October 31, 2011

I want a Knife-Wielding Krusty!

Halloween is a time when a Simpsons fan's thoughts turn to Treehouse of Horror. Over the years, we've had plenty of exemplary gems to celebrate the season, and today, on Halloween, the BOP staff comes together to reminisce about our favorites. Mine are listed in chronological rather than preferential order, but I do give a clue below as to which segment is my favorite.

Hungry Are the Damned (Treehouse of Horror I)

How can I neglect to include the vignette that introduces us to Kang and Kodos? That duo would become integral to Treehouse of Horror over the years, even to the point that they show up to complain when they are not included. I especially enjoy how expectations are subverted with regards to dinner. I'm still not going to try to pronounce Serak the Preparer's name, though.

Lisa's Nightmare aka The Monkey's Paw (Treehouse of Horror II)

The title probably tells you all you need to know, but if you're wondering what makes this vignette special, well, it's everything. Kang and Kodos return to enslave humanity thanks to Lisa's wish for world peace. Homer makes a wish that can't be messed up and asks for a turkey sandwich, but even it is a little dry. Kang and Kodos tell us, "Soon, they will make a board with a nail so big, it will destroy them all!" And finally, after Ned wishes for and receives an opulent home, Homer pouts and says, "I wish *I* had a monkey's paw." It's so perfectly Homer, and a wonderful encapsulation of what Treehouse of Horror is all about.

Clown Without Pity (Treehouse of Horror III)

After forgetting Bart's birthday, Homer runs off to the nearest House of Evil to purchase a gift. The following exchange is one that you will see quoted quite often amongst Simpsons aficionados, myself included:

Owner: Take this object, but beware it carries a terrible curse!
Homer: [worried] Ooooh, that's bad.
Owner: But it comes with a free Frogurt!
Homer: [relieved] That's good.
Owner: The Frogurt is also cursed.
Homer: [worried] That's bad.
Owner: But you get your choice of topping!
Homer: [relieved] That's good.
Owner: The toppings contains Potassium Benzoate.
Homer: [stares]
Owner: That's bad.

The segment is packed with similar gems, as the Krusty the Clown doll Homer purchases for Bart seems hell bent on being just a bit stabby and stalky. We also learn that Homer's baloney's first name *and* last name are H-O-M-E-R. Patty moves toward lesbianism, while Krusty Doll comes on to Malibu Stacey ("It's a little hot for that cheerleader outfit, don't you think?"). Homer reveals that not only is the clown after him, but that the toaster has been laughing at him, too. Best of all, the whole thing could have been avoided if Homer and Bart had just set the doll to something besides "Evil." If I'm forced to choose, this is the one segment I could watch on an endless loop.

The Devil and Homer Simpson (Treehouse of Horror IV)

After realizing that he already ate the "emergency" donut, Homer laments that he would sell his soul to have one of the confectionary treats. In an instant, the devil appears (in a brilliant move, he looks like Flanders) and agrees that Homer can have a donut as long as he agrees to sign away his soul. Amusingly, Mr. Burns likes the cut of Satan's jib. Homer seems to outsmart the devil, holding onto one final piece of donut so that his soul is not forfeit. The allure is too much, though, and Homie eats the "forbidden" crumbs. When the devil's minions try to torture Homer with "all the donuts in the world," he just keeps eating until they're almost gone, leading his keeper to say, I don't understand it. James Coco went mad in 15 minutes!" Ultimately, Homer has a trial where the jury is composed of Benedict Arnold, Lizzie Borden, Richard Nixon, John Wilkes Booth, Blackbeard, John Dillinger and the starting line of the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers. Ultimately, Marge prevails when she shows she was already the owner of Homer's soul, but the devil soon has his revenge, turning Homie's head into a giant donut… which he picks at and eats.

The Shinning (Treehouse of Horror V)

A pitch-perfect parody of the Stanley Kubrick horror film, The Shinning puts Homer into the crazy Jack Nicholson role and it's damn near perfect. Where "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy," "No beer and no TV make Homer something something." Yes, the something something is "go crazy," and Homer doesn't mind if he does.

This episode packs some of the best lines into the last moments of the episode, including:

"Television! Teacher, mother…secret lover."
"Urge to kill fading…fading…fading…RISING! Fading…fading."

And really, "I hope that rug was Scotchgarded" is one of the slyest lines ever on the show.

The Thing and I (Treehouse of Horror VII)

C’mon. You knew it. I knew it. Everyone knew it. Bart has an evil twin. Or wait – Bart is an evil twin. “Oh, don’t look so shocked.”

There’s a lot to like here, from sneaky jabs at Lisa’s nerdiness to Dr. Hibbert’s utter carelessness. Also, there’s the utterly fantastic comment from Hibbert, “Hillbillies prefer to be called ‘sons of the soil.’ But it ain’t gonna happen.” That’s a line that gets quoted quite a bit in this Tennessee home.

Citizen Kang (Treehouse of Horror VII)

Politics make a lot more sense if you imagine that Kang and Kodos are pulling the strings. By now, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a sucker for any ToH episode that features the alien duo, and for my money, Citizen Kang is the best of the bunch. It’s the episode that’s responsible for bumper stickers inscribed “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos.” Honestly, I’ll vote for any candidate that keeps us twirling toward freedom. The episode is packed with excellent quotes, but the best one for my money is “It makes no difference which one of us you vote for. Either way, your planet is doomed. DOOMED!” Truer words were never spoken.

Starship Poopers (Treehouse of Horror IX)

Have I mentioned I like Kang and Kodos? They’re here again, this time when the Simpson family discovers that perhaps Homer isn’t Maggie’s daddy after all – once she starts growing tentacles and a single pointed tooth. Culminating in a shouting/punching match on the Jerry Springer Show, it’s a little bit of its time, but no less funny. Also, since Maggie is my favorite, it’s nice to see her get a little focus.

I Know What You Diddily Iddily Did (Treehouse of Horror X)

Oh my God! The Simpsons killed Ned Flanders. Yes, thanks to Homer’s ineptitude with regard to fog lights, Marge runs over Ned. This might sound tragic, but no. Hilarity does in fact ensue. To keep Maude from suspecting the Simpsons of negligence at the very least, Homer tosses his neighbor off the roof…though Maude happens to be looking away. Of course, Ned’s not dead. He’s a werewolf, which mans that Homer is dinner. Perhaps my favorite part of the vignette is Homer’s eulogy for Ned, which goes a little something like, “When I think about Ned, I can’t help but remember the look on his face when Marge drove over… Oh, wait. What I’d like to say is, we’re still looking for the real killers. Anyway, in conclusion, a man cannot be forced to testify against his wife.”

Desperately Xeeking Xena (Treehouse of Horror X)

To start with, I’m a longtime fan of Xena: Warrior Princess, so an appearance by Lucy Lawless in a Treehouse of Horror episode was certainly cause for celebration. This segment comes complete with an awesome superhero theme song (Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl) and a supervillain like no other (The Collector). I love the moment when Lawless, exasperated at a convention with her fans, explains any errors in television continuity by telling the nerd, “Whenever you notice something like that, a wizard did it.”
It’s also good to know that Lucy Lawless has the ability to fly. That probably comes in handy sometimes.