- Treehouse of Horror (series)
"The Simpsons" "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, also known as "The Simpsons" Halloween episodes, are a series of episodes in the animated television series "
The Simpsons". They are Halloweenspecials, each consisting of three separate, self-contained segments. These segments usually involve the Simpson familyin some horror, science fiction, or supernaturalsetting. Considered non-canon, they always take place outside the normal continuity of the show and completely abandon any pretense of being realistic. The first "Treehouse of Horror" episode aired on October 25, 1990 as part of the second season and was inspired by EC Comicshorror tales. As of 2007, there are 18 "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, with one airing every year. The episodes are known for being far more violent and much darker than an average "Simpsons" episode.
Episodes contain several trademarks, including the alien characters
Kang and Kodos, "scary names" in the credits, a special version of the opening sequence, and parodies of horror and science fiction films. The show's staff regard the "Treehouse of Horror" as being particularly difficult to produce as the scripts often go through many rewrites, and the animators typically have to design new characters and backgrounds.
Many of the episodes are popular among fans and critics of the show and have inspired a whole off-shoot of "Simpsons" merchandise, including action figures, playsets, video games, books, DVDs, comic books and a special version of "Monopoly". Several of the episodes have won awards for animation and sound editing. In 1996, "
Treehouse of Horror VI" was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Awardin the "Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming less than One Hour)" category, but it ultimately lost.
"Treehouse of Horror" episodes typically consist of four parts: an opening and Halloween-themed version of the credits as well as three segments. These segments usually have a horror, science fiction or fantasy theme and quite often are parodies of films, novels, plays, television shows, "The Twilight Zone" episodes, or old issues of
EC Comics. Although they are sometimes connected by "wraparounds", the three segments rarely have any kind of continuing connection within the segment. The exception is " Treehouse of Horror V", in which Groundskeeper Willieis killed by an axe in a similar fashion in all three segments. The segments are considered to be non-canon and always take place outside the normal continuity of the show. From " Treehouse of Horror" to " Treehouse of Horror XIII", all three segments were written by different writers. In some cases there was a fourth writer who wrote the opening and wraparound segments. For "Treehouse of Horror", there were even three different directors for the episode. However, starting with season 15's " Treehouse of Horror XIV", only one writer was credited as having written a "Treehouse of Horror" episode, and the trend has continued since.] The Tombstone gags were easy for the writers in the first episode, but like Marge's warnings, they eventually got more difficult to write, so they were abandoned. Another reason they were dropped was because the tombstones would list television shows that had been canceled the previous season and after a few years, several of the shows that were canceled were produced by ex-"Simpsons" writers.] " Treehouse of Horror III" had Lisa, Bart and Grampa telling stories at a Halloween party; and " Treehouse of Horror IV" is presented by Bart in a parody of Rod Serling's " Night Gallery".] but quite often they will make a cameo appearance in the middle of a different story. For example, a story about zombies attacking the town will suddenly show them in space, watching the events and laughing maniacally at the Earthlings' suffering. The action will then switch back to the actual story.] In the cast member list, though, Harry Shearer's name is rarely changed.
References to films, novels, plays, television shows and other media are quite common and many segments have been complete parodies of something. Many segments are spoofs of episodes of "The Twilight Zone" and entire segments will be based on a single episode.] "Living Doll",] Science fiction films have also occasionally been used as inspiration for segments, and in later episodes many of the segments were based more on science fiction than horror. Science fiction works parodied include "
The Omega Man",] Although every episode is entitled "Treehouse of Horror", the first one was the only episode that actually used the treehouse motif.
The Treehouse of Horror episodes are difficult for both the writers and the animators. The episodes were originally written at the beginning of the production run, but in later seasons they were written at the end and aired at the beginning of the next season as holdovers, thus giving the animators more time to work. Part of the difficulty for the animators is that the episodes always involve many complex backgrounds, new characters, and new designs. They are difficult for the writers because they must produce three stories, an opening and, in the early episodes, a wraparound. They would have to try to fit all of this into a 20–22 minute episode.] By the fourth season, executive producers
Al Jeanand Mike Reisswere less enamored with "Treehouse of Horror" episodes and considered dropping them, but the other writers insisted that they be kept.
Part of the attraction for the writers is that they are able to break the rules and include violence that would not make a regular episode.]
The first "Treehouse of Horror" episode was the first time that an alternate version of the theme that airs over the end credits was used. Originally it was supposed to use a
Theremin, but one could not hit all the necessary notes. Usually when the producers submit an episode for the Primetime Emmy Awardfor "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore)", they submit a Treehouse of Horror episode, and to date, seven episodes have been nominated. The closing of "Treehouse of Horror IV" features a version of the theme that is a combination of the instruments from " The Munsters" theme song and the harpiscord and clicking from the "Addams Family" theme song.
Although the series is meant to be seen on Halloween, in recent years new episodes have premiered in November. This is due to
FOX's current contract with Major League Baseball's World Series.  In 1998, " Treehouse of Horror VIII" won a Golden Reel Awardfor "Best Sound Editing - Television Animated Specials"; the recipients were Robert Mackston, Travis Powers, Norm MacLeod and Terry Greene. Bob Beecher also received a nomination for "Best Sound Editing in Television Animation - Music" for " Treehouse of Horror X".]
List of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes
* [http://animatedtv.about.com/od/episodeguides/p/toh101.htm "Treehouse of Horror" 101] , "
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