The Ninjabot

The Best (and Worst) Roseanne Halloween Episodes

Posted on October 31, 2013 at 12:30 pm by Nathan Tolle

roseanne halloween episode

When it comes to celebrating the Halloween season, one would be wise to try and emulate the Conner Family. They played clever pranks on their friends and neighbors, relished in finding original and outlandish costumes year after year, and seemingly poured half of their income into ghoulish decorations for the household. Unlike the stingy Simpsons, who for some insane reason have yet to release a decent Treehouse of Horrors collection on DVD, the Roseanne: Tricks & Treats DVD offers all eight episodes in their original format. Here’s our ranking of each Roseanne Halloween episode from weakest to strongest.

8. Satan, Darling

Season 9 – Airdate: October 29, 1996

In my opinion, no show jumped the shark more severely than Roseanne did once the Conners won the lottery. From that point, the working class Midwestern family that so many of us could identify with became bizarre cartoon characters living on another planet where comedy is extinct. This episode works as a strange hybrid of Roseanne and Absolutely Fabulous, as Roseanne and Jackie meet Edina and Patsy at a fancy party in New York City’s Upper West Side. When a drunken, unusually-scantily-clad Roseanne passes out in the bathroom, she has a dream that spoofs Rosemary’s Baby where Darlene is giving birth to Satan’s child. Giving the episode some much-needed excitement is a slew of delightful guest stars, like Kathleen Freeman, Jim J. Bullock, and even Ariana Huffington as a witch. Dan, Becky, DJ, David, and Mark are nowhere to be seen in this episode.

Best scene: Roseanne stumbles into a revolving door—mercilessly ending a boring scene where four intoxicated women scream over each other’s lines in a bathroom—and enters a foggy witch coven that finally starts to resemble an actual Halloween episode.

7. Halloween: The Final Chapter

Season 8 – Airdate: October 31, 1995

roseanne halloween episodeThis episode gets off to a real slow start, and it isn’t until the halfway point that we get something resembling a storyline. A Ouija board tells Roseanne that she’s about to go into labor, and she finds herself in a hospital bed being greeted by costumed nurses, psychedelic lighting, dancing tie-dyed hippies, and the spirit of Jerry Garcia.

The 1960’s vibe gives the episode plenty of variety and creativity, and there are a couple good moments with trick-or-treaters, but this one never really comes alive after a double dose of painfully unfunny, meandering scenes in the beginning. I found myself growing impatient and restless during the scene in which Roseanne’s Queen of the Gypsies battles Jackie’s Wicked Witch of the Midwest (who Roseanne played much better in the first Halloween episode) in the kitchen using Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup, cheese wiz, and flashlights—the studio audience/laugh track is as over-the-top as the characters’ histrionics, and I had no idea what I was supposed to be laughing at. There’s one sweet moment in the hospital when Roseanne is trying to relax by thinking of her happiest place, which brings back cherished memories of Halloweens past.

Best scene: In the fast-paced trick-or-treating rush hour scene, there are kids dressed as hot dogs and crooked lawyers, a clever cameo from Sarah Chalke (who isn’t playing Becky #2), the real Ed McMahon, and an amusing sight gag with a glow-in-the dark Dan and Bev.

6. Skeleton in the Closet

Season 7 – Airdate:  October 26, 1994

This episode is a bit of a mixed bag of treats: half Starburst and Twix (yum!), half Good & Plenty and Whoppers (blech!). I really like the scenes with Leon and Bev (two of the best supporting characters) who both intend to overtake Roseanne’s position as Queen of Halloween. Leon, who believes that Halloween belongs to the gays, throws a party at the Lunch Box where he dresses up as Future President Hillary Clinton, and Roseanne dresses as either a California Raisin or Barnie. Fred, uncomfortable at the party, sets the stage for one of the two elaborate pranks, one being the possibility that Bev has been wearing a wig for a long time. I know Roseanne was always a very progressive and gay-friendly show but this one is loaded with stereotypes that were dated even for the time. Also bringing the episode down is a long, boring scene where DJ asks David what it means to be gay. Still, “Skeleton in the Closet” provides several laugh-out-loud moments, and I’ve always considered it to be the last of the good Roseanne Halloween episodes.

Best Scene: A smitten-Leon has a hilarious exchange with Fred, and Bev thinks she finally has the upper hand on her two daughters when it comes to pranks, but she’s unable to resist those serpent-like Macadamia nuts.

5. Trick or Treat

Season 3 – Airdate: October 30, 1990

roseanne halloween episodeConsidering how absolutely perfect the first Roseanne Halloween episode was, it was hard not to feel a little disappointed by “Trick or Treat,” even though it has a lot to offer. I think the problem was that nobody seemed to be having much fun. DJ is upset that his father won’t let him dress as a witch, Dan is questioning his parental skills, Crystal is devastated when a date ends horribly, Roseanne’s plans are disrupted by car trouble, and she has to spend a good portion of her favorite holiday inside a crowded bar lacking a single decoration or person in costume. There aren’t even any decorations in the Conner home, for some reason. On the bright side, there are some great scenes inside a foggy haunted house, back when you could walk through one alone instead of in a ridiculously crowded conga-line fashion. Darlene, Becky, and Dan all sport awesome costumes, and it’s an absolute laugh riot to see how Roseanne deals with hers while inside the bar!

Best Scene: It’s a tie between Dan, Darlene, and Becky showing off their costumes and RoseMan having an altercation with a vulgar man at the lounge.

“Come on fat boy, let’s take this outside.”

“OK, I have to tell you something. I’m a woman.”

“Yeah, you’re gonna be when I get through with you.”

4. Halloween V

Season 6 – October 26, 1993

Roseanne is in a much better mood this year and has even prepared a list of pranks, dirty tricks, and flat-out mean stuff to do to her loved ones. Dan is in fine form as well, playing a smart prank on Roseanne at the Lunch Box involving a mugger and a rat. He also confesses his true opinions on Nancy, which makes for a really enjoyable and witty subplot. Meanwhile, David, making his first appearance in a Halloween episode, becomes infatuated with another girl while Darlene is away at college.

Another strong supporting cast member also makes his Halloween episode debut: Leon, played by Martin Mull, who’s a marvelous victim of Roseanne’s macabre mischief. You know an episode is going to be great when someone brings a dummy corpse into a restaurant in the first three seconds. While The Lunch Box is full of decorations and is an appropriate setting for Halloween hijinks, there isn’t a whole lot of Halloween atmosphere in this episode, at least compared to the previous four.

Best scene: As much as I adore the opening scene in which Leon confronts a corpse, fake vomit, a rubber snake, and a freshly painted chair, I gotta go with that mugging scene.

3. Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down

Season 4 – Airdate: October 29, 1991

roseanne halloween episodeThey didn’t stick around for long, but I always felt the Bowman Family was a great addition to the show, serving as a stark contrast to The Conners. In this episode, after Dan and Roseanne play one hell of an amazing prank on Kathy Bowman, Roseanne spends the rest of Halloween feeling paranoid as she awaits retaliation—but Kathy has no intentions of wasting time on revenge. The Lobo Lounge always seemed like an excellent place to spend Halloween night, full of familiar Lanford residents in outstanding costumes. George Clooney returns to the show for one last appearance, and even though he spends most of the time hiding inside a moose costume, at least he went out on a high note by appearing in one of the funniest Roseanne episodes ever. Among the many highlights are Dan and Roseanne’s grotesque musical number, Jackie and Crystal’s Elvira/Morticia/Cher costumes, and Roseanne finding a way to get revenge for the snakes.

Best scene: When a nervous Kathy enters the Conner house and finds a gutted Dan lying on the kitchen table, the fun is just beginning.

2. Halloween IV

Season 5 – Airdate: October 27, 1992

roseanne halloween episodeRoseanne was such a successful series because it was equally funny and emotional, and nowhere is that perfect balance of comedy and tragedy more noticeable than in season 5. This Roseanne Halloween episode starts differently than the others because she isn’t in a joking mood. In fact, Roseanne struggles to even force a smile, for the past year has been rough on her. This is something I’m sure we can all relate to because, sadly, not all Halloweens can be winners.

Her family is hoping that her favorite holiday is what will cure her depression, but on Halloween night, Roseanne’s nearly catatonic on the couch, alone under a pile of candy wrappers, while Dan and all of their friends are partying at the Lobo Lounge. Fortunately, the Ghosts of Halloween Past, Present, and Future come along to take her on an odyssey that ends with Roseanne regaining her position as Queen of Halloween. This take on A Christmas Carol is heartwarming and hilarious as it tells in flashbacks how this holiday became so important to Roseanne and how horrible her fate will be if she continues on this somber path.

Best scene: The whole episode is one great scene after another, but my personal favorite is when the Ghost of Halloween Present, taking the form of a jovial piece of candy corn, brings Roseanne to the Lobo to see how she’s ruining Halloween for all of her friends by not showing up. Instead, she learns what they really think about those godawful pumpkin cookies that she bakes every year.

1. BOO!

Season 2 – Airdate: October 31, 1989

roseanne halloween episodeIt was fairly easy to rank these Halloween episodes until I got to the final two, and then it was basically a coin toss. Had this first Roseanne Halloween episode not been so successful, then there’s a chance that the others might not have followed, and many people would say that they never made Halloween look more fun than they did here. It wastes no time in getting us into the holiday spirit, showing us shots of autumnal trees and caramel apples.

What’s different about this one is how it takes place entirely inside the house. In the main storyline, Dan and Roseanne are embroiled in a war over who’s the master of Halloween, with the momentum shifting back and forth and the tactics growing increasingly more diabolical. One thing’s for sure: you won’t find anyone with more Halloween spirit than The Conners, and their house—converted into the Tunnel of Terror—is every trick-or-treater’s dream. Even though I’ve seen this episode countless times, the scene in which the kids go through the Tunnel of Terror makes me feel like The Great Pumpkin has brought me the ultimate Halloween treat.

Best scene: I’ve always laughed the hardest at Roseanne’s prank that involves Dan’s business associate, dead man’s stew, a severed screaming Jackie head, a ruined $50 tie, and the line “Get up you big baby!”

Happy Halloween everyone!

    Sharing the Legacy on Flickr

    See all photos

    Tweets