The best Halloween costumes on TV

Throughout the years our favorite TV characters have had some pretty amazing get-ups
By Kyle Fowle  Published on 10/24/2018 at 3:06 PM EDT

Halloween-themed TV episodes are a great excuse for a show to indulge in the silly, creative and outlandish. Be it Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s series of “Halloween Heists,” Community’s epic nods to horror films, or, most recently, The Big Bang Theory’s final themed episode where Howard dresses up as Sheldon, the spooky season brings out a lot of great ideas in the writer’s room. It’s a chance for shows, and specifically sitcoms, to push reality to the side and throw out some ideas that are a little more ridiculous and fun.

It’s with that in mind that we’ve gathered the list below, which collects the best halloweens costumes we’ve ever seen on TV.

Sonja Flemming/CBS
Howard Wolowitz as Sheldon Cooper from 'The Big Bang Theory' episode 'The Imitation Perturbation'

It’s Sheldon squared in this year’s Halloween episode. Dressed in a Flash T-shirt and mimicking his mannerisms, Howard perfectly imitates his friend (who goes as Doc Brown). The best part is Sheldon doesn’t even get the gag at first. Bazinga!

Regular Sized Rudy as Paul Rudd in 'I Love You, Man' from 'Bob’s Burgers’ episode 'Nightmare on Ocean Avenue Street'

This episode might have just aired the other night, but this is an instant classic costume. We’d expect nothing less from Regular Sized Rudy, who comes up with the most regular costume possible.

Leslie Knope as Rosie The Riveter from 'Parks and Recreation’ episode 'Halloween Surprise'

This costume is absolutely perfect for Leslie Knope. The strong, determined, no-nonsense public servant embodies everything that Rosie The Riveter signifies. It’s not just a fun get-up, but a costume that tells us so much about who Leslie Knope is and what she believes in.

George Jefferson as Charlie Chaplin from 'The Jeffersons’ episode 'Now You See It, Now You Don’t'

The Jeffersons crafted a two-part murder mystery of sorts for their Halloween special in 1979, with everyone having to show up to the house dressed as their favorite actor. The best costume in the bunch? George Jefferson as Charlie Chaplin. Why? Because there’s just something truly hilarious about the brash, boisterous, loud George Jefferson feeling passionate enough about the silent film star to dress up as him for Halloween.

Rachel as Rachel from 'Friends’ episode 'The One With The Halloween Party'

Rachel quickly corrects Monica when she’s chastised for not wearing a costume to her Halloween party: “I am a woman who spent a lot of money on a dress and she wants to wear it because soon she won’t be able to fit into it.” We’ve all wanted to shirk the costume policy every now and then, and Rachel’s pregnancy excuse is a good a reason as any to just wear something flattering.

Michael Ansell/ABC
Eddie Huang as Humpty Hump from 'Fresh Off The Boat’ episode 'Miracle on Dead Street'

Eddie Huang can’t really be boiled down to one characteristic or one passion, but his love of hip hop certainly drives a lot of the tone and stories in ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat. That love made its way into season 2’s Halloween episode, as Eddie dressed up as a perfectly adorable homage to Digital Underground’s Humpty Hump. Now that’s a deep dive reference for you.

Sonja Flemming/CBS
Amy Farrah Fowler as Raggedy Ann and Sheldon as C-3PO Andy from 'The Big Bang Theory' episode 'The Holographic Excitation'

Amy and Sheldon know they want to go as a couple for Halloween in season 6, but they can’t agree on what that couple might be. Enter their hilarious compromise: Amy as the classic Raggedy Ann and Sheldon as her droid-ified companion, Andy.

Buffy as a Damsel in Distress in 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ episode 'Halloween'

In this season 2 episode, Buffy is worried that she’s not appealingly feminine enough for her crush Angel. So, on Halloween, she decides to dress up as a an old-fashioned woman, corset and all. When everyone suddenly becomes the costumes they’re wearing though, the typically badass Buffy becomes a damsel in distress, someone in need of saving. Needless to say, it’s not the Buffy we love, but it’s a costume that teaches her all about being herself, and taking pride in being strong and independent.

Troy and Abed as Ripley and Alien in 'Community’ episode 'Epidemiology'

We could make an entire list based only on Community episodes, but we’ll avoid that, and simply say that this dual costume from season 2 might be the best. Troy and Abed, dressing up as Ripley and her vicious space foe from Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien, take their costume to the next level, spending much of the episode disappearing into their roles and stalking each other like their lives actually depend on it.

Michael Scott as 'MacGruber' from 'The Office’ episode 'Costume Contest'

A costume so ridiculous it could only come from the mind of Dunder Mifflin’s sweet but oh so incompetent boss, Michael Scott. He dresses as Will Forte’s “MacGruber” from SNL (a play on words for MacGuyver) while obsessing over diffusing a bomb.

Naomi as The Slutty Pumpkin from numerous 'How I Met Your Mother' episodes

Look, there’s nothing particularly inspired about this costume, which you could purchase anywhere in October, but the fact that the show made Katie Holmes’s Naomi into a recurring storytelling device and gag makes it worth mentioning. The Slutty Pumpkin always loomed large over Ted’s life, even if Naomi herself hardly ever appeared on screen.

Carlton Banks as Macaulay Culkin from 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ episode 'Hex and The Single Guy'

Only Carlton Banks would consider Macaulay Culkin his idol, and only Carlton Banks could deliver a costume so horrifying. Who knows what Carlton expected to achieve when he attempted to bleach his hair for the costume, but we have to give him points for trying something so outside the box.

Ron Batzdorff/Warner Bros.
Sheldon Cooper as 'The Doppler Effect' from 'The Big Bang Theory’ episode 'The Middle-Earth Paradigm'

This list has more than a few costumes that are memorable not only because they’re creative, but because they perfectly suit the characters wearing them. Sheldon is more than happy to breathlessly explain his costume to anybody who will listen, much to Penny’s chagrin. You know Sheldon just has a closet full of costumes that involve elaborate scientific explanations.

DJ Connor as 'The Alfalfanator' from 'Roseanne’ episode 'Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down'

Both Roseanne and Dan have different ideas about how DJ should dress for Halloween. Roseanne wants him to go cute with an Alfalfa costume from The Little Rascals, while Dan is hoping for something more manly in The Terminator. To their surprise, DJ comes up with a compromise, blending the two ideas into one: The Alfalfanator.

Everyone from 'Scream Queens’ episode 'Halloween Blues'

Seriously, the costumes at this Halloween party are incredible. There’s Chanel using the blue skin she received through a chemical accident to go as Smurfette, Jamie Lee Curtis’ Dean Munsch as Alexander Familton, and perhaps best of all, Taylor Lautner’s Cassidy dressing up as Ryan Lochte, dyed blonde hair and all.

Bill Haverchuk as The Bionic Woman in 'Freak and Geeks’ episode 'Tricks and Treats'

Oh, Bill. The costume is perfect, even if it opens him up to the bullying that was just the norm for him. One of TV’s most lovable, vulnerable characters, and the confidence he has in pulling off the Bionic Woman costume is something to be admired.

John Flexor/ABC
The Johnsons as the Obamas from 'black-ish’ episode 'Jacked O’ Lantern'

Black-ish has reveled in timely political topics in a nuanced, complex way on numerous occasions, but for the second season Halloween episode, the Johnsons were simply stately. They dressed up as the Obamas, puppy and all, and offered up a lighthearted episode well before their post-Obama heartbreaker.


Danny Feld/ABC
Vanessa Williams and Kevin Rahm as Marilyn Monroe in 'Desperate Housewives' episode 'Excited and Scared'

There’s nothing worse than showing up to a party and someone else is wearing the same thing. Which is exactly what happens to Vanessa Williams’ Renee and Kevin Rahm’s Lee, who both go as the one and only Marilyn. Both characters are divas in their own right, so it’s a hilarious case of “Who wore it better?”

Emery and Evan as Mulder and Scully from 'Fresh Off The Boat’ episode 'Working The ‘Ween’'

Okay, we couldn’t resist just one more very recent entry, and yet another from Fresh Off The Boat’s consistently fantastic Halloween episodes. Evan and Emery kill it every single year with their costumes—remember the amazing pairing of Hannibal Lecter with a sheep?—and this year is no different, nailing the look of everyone’s favorite supernatural sleuths.  

What are your favorite TV characters’ costumes? Let us know in the comments below!


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