Let’s be honest—you could pick any Buffy episode to watch this Halloween, and it would be a great decision. With witches, demons, vampires, and all kinds of other creatures that go bump in the night, Buffy is perfect for revisiting this time of year. That’s why I’ve compiled episodes that I think are particularly fitting for a Halloween viewing. With the exception of one, you’ll find I didn’t include the obvious Halloween specials because I think there are creepier episodes that better capture the Halloween spirit—ones well-seated in horror meta-commentary with brilliant visual storytelling. Here’s my list:
1. Halloween — Episode 2.6
In season two, Buffy hits its stride, culminating in one of my favorite season finales of television. That’s not to say it didn’t keep some of the camp from season one. The premise of “Halloween” reminds me of something out of a Goosebumps novel or an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? After getting costumes from Ethan’s Costume Shop, the Scooby Gang and other citizens of Sunnydale transform into literal interpretations of their costumes. For someone who’s never watched Buffy, this is a pretty self-contained episode, perfect for a one-off Halloween viewing, but for lovers of the show, this is an introduction to Ethan Rayne, who seems like a throwaway character but ends up affecting the season arc and several seasons down the road. It’s the beginning of many long-term payoffs and complex narrative arcs that make Buffy a stand-out show.