From surprisingly awesome horror sequels and terrifying artwork to scary movie personality tests, we hope we’ve adequately provided you with a diverse range of activities for this Halloween. And with the day finally upon us, we’re rounding things out with a tried (and sometimes true) classic: the zombie apocalypse. Below we’ve collected some of TV’s greatest spins on the genre, a diverse list of sometimes scary, and often funny (reflexively speaking), episodes which could also double as some entertainment for this evening, or any day really, because zombies, they’re year-round now! Have a favorite TV zombie? Do share!
The Simpsons: “Dial ‘Z’ for Zombies”
In the final act of the the third annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode, the kids accidentally summon a zombie apocalypse when Bart attempts to resurrect Snowball 1 and must find a way to reverse the spell before all of Springfield becomes zombie-fied. Our favorite moment (above) comes when Homer tries to do a good deed and sacrifice himself for his family, but instead pisses off the undead because he doesn’t have any brains.
It took seven seasons before X-Files got a zombie episode (and also, Mulder and Scully’s first true kiss!). Serving as the unofficial finale of the canceled Fox series Millennium , the special agents enlist the help of Frank Black, now retired in a mental institution in Virginia, when a former Millennium Group agent commits suicide and goes missing from his grave. This episode, penned by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, isn’t a full-on apocalypse, but is notable for some especially scary zombie attacks in the morgue and a creepy necromancer’s basement.
An endless loop of ABBA’s greatest hits (and Dean Pelton’s personal voice memos), Halloween, and some bad army food all add up to the perfect storm for a zombie apocalypse at Greendale. This episode is pitch-perfect Community and concludes with a more-than-satisfying twist you wouldn’t expect from a network sitcom Halloween special.
The Twilight Zone: “Mr. Garrity and the Graves”
So this episode isn’t exactly a TZ favorite, but it is a classic as far as zombies on TV go, reminding us what they looked like before they were doctored up with special effects and tearing people’s intestines out. In other words, this episode is for those of you looking for some gore-free horror with a predictable yet clever ending in less than 30 minutes this evening. In this fifth season episode, Mr. Garrity, “a resurrecter of the dead,” scams the town of Happiness, Arizona into paying him not to resurrect their loved ones and thus unleashing all their dirty secrets. But since this is the Twilight Zone, you can bet the undead make an appearance (see the ending above), beckoning the cautionary message “be careful what you don’t wish for.”
South Park: “Pinkeye”
In the series’ first Halloween special, undead Kenny unleashes a zombie apocalypse on South Park, but unfortunately everyone mistakes the attack for a pinkeye outbreak. It’s only with the help of Chef (who eventually goes the way of an MJ zombie) and Worcestershire customer service that the boys are able to save their town. This episode is a South Park oldie-but-goodie, and reminder that Halloween isn’t about giving and loving because (to quote Kyle) that’s Christmas.
Doctor Who: “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”
The Doctor and Rose end up in WWII London and take on a league of gas-mask zombies who can only say “mummy” (instead of the requisite “brains”). This award-winning (and fan favorite) two-part episode is also notable for delivering some of the show’s best lines, including “Don’t drop the banana!” and “Go to your room!” (see above for the latter). And of course the introduction of Captain Jack.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: “Zombie Nightmare”
In this highlight episode from the Mike years, the guys provide their critical analysis of Zombie Nightmare, an incredible ’80s slasher flick that doesn’t feature an apocalypse so much as a couple of not-very-scary zombies exacting revenge on some punk teens and Adam West. See above for the full, glorious 90 minutes (and 1:23:20 for some awesome effects and one of our favorite lines, “This isn’t a very effective cemetery”). For more MST3K zombie action, but of the musical variety, check out The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies .
The Walking Dead: “Days Gone By”
We’d obviously be remiss not to include this pilot, the best (serious) dramatization of a zombie apocalypse in TV history. The image of Rick apologizing to Hannah, i.e. Bicycle Girl Zombie, still gives us chills to this day.
Dead Set (the entire series)
The five-part, BAFTA-nominated Dead Set is Big Brother meets the zombie apocalypse, and as awesome as that sounds. Much like this summer’s Burning Love, you needn’t be a reality show watcher to appreciate this clever send-up, although you probably shouldn’t have an aversion to intestines because, um, there’s quite a few of them.
Happy Endings: “Dave of the Dead”
While no actual zombies appear in the episode, Dave realizes he might as well be a member of the walking dead, going through life eating the same fiber-based cereal every day and working a mind-numbing office job without hopes, dreams, and the ability to realize he’s awake. Meanwhile Jane and Max compete to see who would survive a zombie apocalypse. This is a fine example of something Happy Endings does well (horror spoofs), not to mention a great application of the zombie trope to real life.