Teen Drama Halloween Episodes
Due to the ongoing pandemic, most people won't be engaging in their usual Halloween festivities this year. That's all the more reason to look back at Halloweens of teen dramas past.
When teen dramas are based in “reality” — that is, the pace of the plot aligns with the calendar year — it allows for the shows to have seasonal episodes tied to holidays that are taking place in “real life.” So that means, in this case, they would air Halloween-themed episodes on or around October 31.
That was certainly true for “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “One Tree Hill,” “Gossip Girl,” and “90210.” The exception? That would be “The O.C.,” as the fall schedule was always complicated for the FOX series due to the MLB postseason. Fortunately, the other teen dramas served up plenty of tricks and treats.
Beverly Hills, 90210
Episode 2.13, “Halloween”
“Beverly Hills, 90210” first marked Halloween on… Halloween. This season 2 episode aired on October 31, 1991. The storyline largely revolves around the gang going to a costume party (Donna memorably dresses a mermaid, Brenda and Dylan go as Bonnie and Clyde, etc.), while Brandon and Emily bond during trick-or-treating and David and Scott resolidify their friendship with good, old-fashioned egg fights. Perhaps most notable, however, is what happens with Kelly: After being warned that her “friendly witch” costume is too provocative, she is nearly raped at the Halloween party until her friends come to her rescue. (Let’s be clear, though: The way a woman dresses does not mean she deserves to be sexually assaulted or is inviting sexual harassment… ever.) Part of what makes this so noteworthy is that among the men who hit on Kelly at the party is one played by Cliff Dorfman… who in season 9 plays Joe Patch who actually does rape Kelly.
Episode 5.08, “Things That Go Bang in the Night”
When the KEG House hosts a Halloween party for kids, Kelly again dresses as a good witch… though this time, she’s happily kissing boyfriend Brandon. Donna is not only in another extravagant costume, but she’s also juggling two guys: Griffin and Ray. Another character in a love triangle of sorts? Valerie, who bails on her Halloween plans with Steve to keep watch over a drunken, spiraling Dylan. The episode reaches a climax with this iconic line: “May the bridges I burn light the way.” This hour was directed by Jason Priestley (Brandon).
Episode 6.08, “Gypsies, Cramps and Fleas”
When a supposed fortune teller sets up shop outside the Peach Pit After Dark, three couples are affected: Susan comes clean to Brandon about her ex, David tries to seduce Valerie with a love potion, and Steve and Clare get it on after unwittingly drinking said potion. Meanwhile, after Donna’s relationship with Ray took off in season 5’s Halloween episode, this one has their dynamic turn downright dangerous when he aggressively confronts her, leading new love interest Joe to step in. Oh, and The Cramps perform at the PPAD Halloween party. This episode was written by Christine Elise (Emily).
Episode 7.07, “Fearless”
This time it’s Steve and Clare’s turn to go from spending one Halloween hooking up to the next fighting. And it’s the Alpha House’s turn to host a Halloween party for kids, where Donna bonds with firefighter Cliff and Kelly with fellow CU student Mark. Plus, Dylan and Toni name their new cat “Trouble” (foreshadowing much?) and Valerie puts a new spin on “trick or treat” by dropping off a surprise at Kenny’s house when their affair hits the skids.
Episode 8.08, “Toil and Trouble”
Does an autumn ball count as a Halloween party? It apparently does here, and now it’s Valerie who’s in for a rude awakening when Noah and Cooper come face to face. A purported psychic again plays a role, with Donna enlisting the woman’s help for a potential fashion client’s bizarre request. Steve’s budding romance with Carly progresses and Brandon and Kelly… well, they can’t keep their hands off each other. Click to watch!
Episode 10.06, “‘80s Night”
You can’t go wrong with an ‘80s theme for a Halloween party. That’s the setup for a pregnant Janet reuniting with her old bandmates to play the Peach Pit After Dark’s Halloween party, which Steve — focused on turning Casa Walsh into a haunted house — initially poo-poos before coming around. Noah and Donna wind up arrested when Gina’s after-hours strip club is busted by the cops, and the show’s Halloween episodes come full circle with Kelly. Remember how Cliff Dorfman, aka rapist Joe Patch, appeared in the season 2 Halloween episode? In this one, Kelly meets with Joe’s parents after… well… you know.
Episode 3.07, “Escape from Witch Island”
Okay, so this technically isn’t an official Halloween episode. In fact, it didn’t air until mid-November in 1999. But the episode is an homage to The Blair Witch Project and is filled with spookiness and creepiness as Dawson, Joey, Pacey, and Jen explore the mysterious “Witch Island.” That’s certainly a Halloween theme to me. Among the key moments: Dawson and Joey argue over the state of their relationship and a “spell” brings Pacey and Jen together.
Episode 5.09, “Four Scary Stories”
What’s with “Dawson’s Creek” having episodes clearly inspired by Halloween that don’t actually air around Halloween? This one was broadcast in December. And as its title suggests, it’s a short story-style episode (also done in season 4’s similarly named “Four Stories”), where Joey, Pacey, Jack, and Grams all tell, well, scary stories. It’s clearly a throwaway filler episode, but if you like being mildly spooked, it’s worth a watch.
Episode 6.06, “Living Dead Girl”
Okay, here we finally have an explicitly Halloween-themed episode that actually aired around Halloween — October 30, 2002, to be exact. A prank by Todd and Natasha has Dawson thinking their film set is haunted by a ghost, Joey and Eddie go on a haunted house adventure with Harley, and most importantly, Pacey and Audrey dramatically split… kicking off her downward spiral, which culminates in a meltdown on a different holiday (Christmas).
One Tree Hill
Episode 3.04, “An Attempt to Tip the Scales”
In celebration of Halloween, Tric hosts a masquerade party, complete with a performance from Fall Out Boy. There’s an amusing montage with Haley watching Lucas try on different costumes, with the latter ultimately settling on a Tommy Lee persona while the former goes with a post-makeover Sandy from Grease. Meanwhile, Brooke is a sexy devil and Peyton is the angel of death (of course they are). But the costume that leads to the most drama is Nathan’s: He dresses as Batman, but so does Chris Keller… so which of them did Haley kiss?!
Episode 8.06, “Not Afraid”
If you ever wanted to see Julian as one of the dalmatians from 101 Dalmatians, then this was the episode for you, all thanks to his mom who dresses as Cruella de Vil. But that isn’t the weirdest part of this Halloween hour. That honor goes to Quinn’s zombie-filled nightmare. But there’s also a great Easter egg of sorts, with Haley wearing a pregnant cheerleader costume. Because, you know, she was a pregnant cheerleader in high school. Sophia Bush (Brooke) directed this episode.
Episode 1.06, “The Handmaiden’s Tale”
This episode marks the first appearance of Vanessa, which kicks off a love triangle with Dan and Serena, who are also in a love triangle with Nate. Oh, what tangled webs they weave! Blair is spearheading a masquerade ball, which Dan and Jenny manage to sneak into, since, you know, they’re all wearing masks. A case of mistaken identity ensues, leading Nate to kiss Jenny, thinking she’s Serena… even though Blair is trying to rekindle her own romance with Nate. Again: What tangled webs!
Episode 3.07, “How to Succeed in Bassness”
How do you know it’s Halloween? Well, the episode starts with Rufus carving pumpkins, so there’s that. But it’s a far cry from two years prior. Here it’s Jenny in the “Queen Bee” role and bossing around her minions while Chuck tries to exclude Blair from the opening of his new club. And so we don’t forget it’s Halloween, there’s a whole subplot with Lily hiring trick-or-treaters to make Rufus happy. You can guess how that goes over.
Episode 4.09, “The Witches of Bushwick”
Another masquerade party? Yes, another. There’s more deja vu with the Dan - Serena - Nate love triangle back in play too. Plus, things only get more complicated with meddling from Vanessa and Jenny, much like in season 1. There’s even another look-alike situation with Jenny and Juliet purposely disguising themselves to look like Serena — all in a twisted attempt to ruin her life — and the latter kissing Nate and Dan as part of the scheme. To say things don’t end well for Serena would be an understatement.
Episode 4.07, “It’s the Great Masquerade, Naomi Clark”
The title is a nod to “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” but the episode isn’t quite as family-friendly as the cartoon. Naomi is in charge of planning a costume party at CU, but is sabotaged by nemesis Holly and the help of some strippers. With Adrianna keeping an eye on Dixon as he goes through withdrawal, they are literally handcuffed to each other while dressed as a police officer and prisoner — something that plays quite differently in light of the events of 2020. There’s also a political plot, with Silver learning the candidate she’s working for isn’t as ethical as she seems, another odd echo of 2020.
Which teen drama Halloween episode is your favorite? Share in the comments!
Nothing will ever top the holiday episodes from Beverly Hills 90210.