Everyone knows Roseanne is the self-proclaimed Queen of Halloween. Beginning with the show’s second season, Roseanne set the standard for Halloween TV entertainment. The episodes are gruesome, funny, and full of unbelievable pranks, props and parties—all of which would realistically set the Conner family back a pretty penny (and most likely did).
So, let’s celebrate the Delaware Street spooktacular by ranking the episodes good to perfect — because, quite frankly, I enjoy them all.
#8 – “Halloween V” (Season Six, October 26, 1993)
You know, this episode was initially ranked a tad higher, but after recently watching it, I’ve discovered one very important thing: it lacks simple Halloween. As a general episode, it works perfectly fine. And maybe that’s the issue — it’s not Halloween-special. It revolves too much around the Darlene/David and Dan/Nancy relationships. Sure, they end in pranks (and non-pranks), but all the same, it’s just not as Halloween-y as some of the rest. The holiday merely feels like an afterthought — hence the cheap-y Lunch Box decorations.
But major credit should be given to the show for getting away with Dan’s super-gory, super-REAL bloody nose as sitcom entertainment! Did the network just think the Conners were pulling another prank?
#7 – “Halloween IV” (Season Five, October 27, 1992)
“Halloween IV” is just kind of a bummer — for most of the episode. Because Roseanne is lacking the spooky spirit, the three ghosts of Halloween pay her a visit. So, from there, it becomes the Roseanne flashback show. It’s fine, but it removes us a little too much from the rest of the cast. We want our Conner family and friends celebrating the holiday together, not depressed and apart.
And honestly, I’m torn on Dan and Jackie’s costume. It’s incredibly well-done and clever, but it feels a little too elaborate and over-the-top for this blue-collar family. Am I wrong? I could be wrong. Darlene and DJ’s costumes on the other hand…. bloody brilliant.
#6 – “Satan, Darling” (Season Nine, October 29, 1996)
Season nine was weird, yeah? Because of its absurdly poignant and fairly off-putting final moments, I tend to look at this season as “The Conners Are Having a Money Dream.” Meaning, it’s just Roseanne and co. having fun and nothing is real. At least that’s what I tell myself. So, for the final Halloween episode, they take a mystical, drug-fueled leap and rehash a classic, Rosemary’s Baby, using Darlene’s pregnancy and a pair of guest stars (Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley).
And you know what? For me, it actually works. I’m a fan of Absolutely Fabulous, so the ladies’ participation is bonkers and brilliant — especially when parallels are drawn between Roseanne/Edina and Jackie/Patsy. It’s definitely out of character (and off-site) as compared the rest of the Roseanne Halloween episodes, but at least you felt like thought and care was given to this one. So, it’s a decent — albeit uneven — sendoff.
#5 – “Skeleton in the Closet” (Season Seven, October 26, 1994)
“Skeletons in the Closet” is kind of like the right answer to “Halloween V.” Like its predecessor(s), this story revolves around one massive prank that builds and builds throughout the episode — and the audience, like Roseanne, is not really in on the joke. Improving upon “Halloween V” is the setting — it’s one big awesomely gay Halloween party at the Lunch Box. And then there’s the side story involving Bev going bald — which in itself is great because I kind of love everything Bev does.
As for the episode’s tag, Beverly admits to going bald and Roseanne “blows up the house” as her final prank. I’m all in on Roseanne having the last word, but blowing up the house? That’s a little wonky and cheap. I feel like it may have sounded better in the writers’ room.
#4 – “Halloween – The Final Chapter” (Season Eight, October 31, 1995)
This was intended to be the last Halloween episode of the series — but surprise, surprise the show was renewed for yet another season. Half of the episode I really dig — everything with the family at the Conner home, the Ouija board, and especially Roseanne and Jackie’s kitchen “fight.”
Despite whatever their off-screen relationship was (I hear mixed rumors), as Roseanne and Jackie, they were perfectly paired and everything they did as sisters (fight, joke, belittle) felt authentic. My favorite moment of the episode is when Roseanne threatens Jackie with Mrs. Butterworth’s sticky kisses (see image above). Come on, folks — who wasn’t just a little afraid of this syrup bottle? Even the commercials encouraged her life force abilities — and I can’t handle that.
As for the episode’s second half where Roseanne gives birth to little Jerry Garcia Conner? I appreciate the sentiment and spirituality behind it, but it just doesn’t gel with the rest of the Halloween-y episode..
#3 – “Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down” (Season Four, October 29, 1991)
The fourth season’s episode has a lot of things going for it. First, we’re having a Halloween party at the Lanford Lodge — and anytime there’s a party, bonus points are awarded. Second, Dan and Roseanne perform a ventriloquist skit with their insanely fun costume — to the dismay of their friends. Third, we get a little cameo from Jackie’s former lover Booker (George Clooney).
And, finally, the pranks! “Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down” opens with one of the (faux) goriest moments in TV history — right?! Roseanne’s tight-ass neighbor, Kathy enters the Conner home only to find Dan gutted on the kitchen table — and in pops Roseanne with both a knife and a confession! There’s like a lot of blood going on — but because it’s “fake,” I’m guessing they were able to get away with it.
As a result of Kathy’s horrified reaction, Roseanne becomes crazy-paranoid for the remainder of the episode, thinking her tidy neighbor is plotting revenge. Which is silly because the Conners are pretty unique in their vengeance — they own that shit.
Side note: As with Estelle Parsons’ Beverly, Meagen Fay’s Kathy is pretty great — in that horrible, obnoxious, glad-I-don’t-actually-know-you kind of way.
#2 – “Boo” (Season Two, October 31, 1989)
I have to believe this is most fans’ # 1 pick — and it’s perfect, for sure. As Roseanne‘s premier Halloween outing, “Boo” hits all the marks with absolute holiday dedication. From the get-go, this family is super into Halloween — even a socially depressed Becky comes around to participate in the family antics.
Everyone wanted to be in the Conner home on Halloween night — as a trick or treater or an active ghoulish participant. It’s a fluid, moving, stimulating thing. From DJ’s “speech” to Crystal’s “save,” it’s a visual masterpiece.
This episode also launches the never-ending Halloween prank war — that endures for seasons. And what’s great is how Roseanne wins this episode’s battle — by fooling Dan into thinking good ‘ol Bev (and Al) will be coming for a two-week visit. It’s believable and awesome and Dan’s visceral reactions are comic gold.
#1 – “Trick or Treat” (Season Three, October 30, 1990)
So, while I absolutely adore “Boo,” the third season’s sophomore Halloween attempt wins for me. Why? Because it’s plainly the funniest. There’s something about Roseanne costumed as a burly man and getting stuck at the Lobo Lounge with Jackie that just makes me laugh. It’s not the spookiest of set-ups, but Roseanne just looks like she’s having a fun experiment — from the bathroom and guy talk to indirectly hitting on Crystal and pretending she’s with Jackie. It’s just a great one.
And to top it off, there’s an odd juxtaposition going on. While Roseanne dresses as a dude, DJ wants to wear a witch costume. Seemingly, Dan was always OK with his wife’s duds, but we witness his angst over DJ’s decision to dress as — gasp — a girl. In the end, Dan comes around with DJ and later defends man-Roseanne to a bunch of jerks at the Lobo — even feigning a gay relationship. That’s some rapid character growth there. And it’s all aces in my book.
So, there you have it. I did it — I ranked the episodes, according to my personal tastes and wants for Roseanne + Halloween. It took some time and rearranging — and now I’m curious about YOURS!