Ranking Every Halloween Episode of “The Office”

The Halloween episode is a staple of many sitcoms, at least those bound by the weekly September to May airing scheduling on network TV.  And since there are few TV comedies as iconic and long lasting (thanks to streaming) as The Office, we thought it would be fun to take a look at and rank all 6 Halloween episodes of the series.

For those who recall that The Office had 9 seasons, Seasons 1, 3, and 4 unfortunately never had Halloween episodes.  The closest that Season 3 comes to is “Diwali” in which Michael Scott tells his date Carol that they’re going to a costume party when it’s actually a Diwali celebration.  But enough digression and on to the rankings!

6. “Here Comes Treble” (Season 9, Episode 5)
Office 6
Let’s be honest, Season 9 was no one’s favorite season, and that extends to the Halloween episode.  We have two simultaneous plots of Andy desperately trying to cling to his college glory days as the current Here Comes Treble lineup is there to perform at the Halloween party, and we have Jim and Pam at odds over Jim investing their entire savings into his startup.

The former does feature a fun cameo from Stephen Colbert, but this was the era that Andy started to become insufferable and annoying, and it very much begins with this episode.  And the latter features everyone’s least favorite shoehorned story arc that drove a wedge between Jim and Pam because the series had seemingly run out of ideas.

But most offensive of all is that Halloween itself sort of feels like an afterthought.  Sure the episode is set around the party, but it’s really just more of a background setting for other things to happen, unlike previous seasons that incorporated Halloween into the plot.

5. “Koi Pond” (Season 6, Episode 8)
Office 5
Unless you watched this episode when it first aired, you probably had no idea that the Halloween cold open even existed.  It featured the warehouse being turned into a haunted house which ended in Michael pretending to hang himself to scare the children in attendance.  This being the reason why NBC removed the scene from all future airings, nor is it available on DVD or on streaming.

But what’s most frustrating about this cold open (other than the reason it was pulled) is that a sequence with this level of production design was relegated to a cold open.  The warehouse is completely decked out and the costumes are really cool.  Why wasn’t this given an entire episode?

4. “Employee Transfer” (Season 5, Episode 6)
Office 4
Another Halloween sequence that was just given the cold open treatment instead of a whole episode.  That said, it does perfectly encapsulate how apparently every person in existence decided to dress up as Heath Ledger’s Joker for Halloween 2008.  That and the bit with Pam dressed as Charlie Chaplin just to discover that no one at corporate dressed up (and unable to remove her hat because then she looked like Hitler) was pretty hilarious too.

But again, it’s frustrating to see the Halloween episode only get a few minutes instead of an entire episode.  And Season 5 was the first to do this (with 6 following suit, but 7 going back to a whole episode).

3. “Spooked” (Season 8, Episode 5)
Office 3
The reception to Robert California was very mixed in Season 8, but this is one episode that his brand of peculiarity fit perfectly.  The way he collects everyone’s fears and then weaves them together paints him as the almost otherworldly force that he seems to be.

Plus it will never not be hilarious watching Erin struggle to describe the adult card game as “The game of cards that gets you hard”, and Gabe’s incredibly disturbing arthouse horror movie is the closest this series gets to actual horror.

2. “Costume Contest” (Season 7, Episode 6)
Office 2
This is a very close second.  The episode’s main plot regards the titular costume contest, as well as a subplot about Jim and Pam disagreeing on the existence of ghosts.  As a result, everyone gets really into it and goes all out.

And while there’s another subplot about Darryl going over Michael’s head to Gabe, the whole thing is made funnier when Michael makes Kevin cry by assuming he’s doing the same thing when he’s actually just telling Gabe about different Lady Gaga moves.

But of course the highlight is Oscar.  While everyone is desperate to win the coupon book, he seems to be the only one who understands that you have to spend tenfold just to get the advertised savings.  And when he ditches his costume to go as a “rational consumer”, he still ends up winning anyway.  Creed’s explanation is probably one of my favorite jokes in the entire series when he says it was the best Edward James Olmos costume he’d ever seen.

1. “Halloween” (Season 2, Episode 5)
Office 1
It was very difficult to decide which would be number one, but this episode narrowly beat out “Costume Contest” because it still has that early, awkward charm before the series jumped the proverbial shark and got too ridiculous.

The humor comes from how uncomfortable it is that of course Michael waited until the last day of the month to let someone go, which makes everyone struggle to justify their usefulness, all while worrying about whether it will ruin the mood for the Halloween party.

As previously mentioned, this was before the Flanderization of any character and therefore, each one feels much more grounded and realistic. As a result we get great little moments like Angela, Oscar, and Kevin realizing that there is one department with 3 people doing the work that 2 could do, but it’s them.

Plus its ending isn’t afraid to go from uncomfortably funny to just downright uncomfortable when Michael finally makes the decision and fires Devon.  Afterwards, there’s a great scene of Michael giving out candy to trick or treaters where we see that it affects him a lot more than he let on, another great example of how poignant the show could be when it wanted to be.

Which ones were your favorites?  Let us know in the comments!

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