There’s a chill in the air. Leaves are starting to turn. Store shelves are quickly filling up with overpriced bulk bags of candy. Halloween is just around the corner, and we’re excited! In the spirit of the holiday, we’re going to be sharing with you nine of the best spooky cartoons. We won’t be going for anything obvious today—no Courage the Cowardly Dog or Scooby-Doo—because we’re hoping to share some lesser-viewed gems to help you get into the Halloween spirit.
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Image via Nickelodeon
This web series turned television show was created by Amy Winfrey and ran for an unfortunately short run of 18 seven-minute episodes on Nicktoons back in 2008. The series centers on two little girls, Vendetta (Aglaia Mortcheva) and Charlotte (Winfrey). Vendetta has the ability to create terrifying creatures called ‘Fiends’. Using them as weapons of mass destruction, she’s successfully taken over the town of Clamburg as something of a malevolent dictator. Charlotte, friendly and painfully oblivious, is new to Clamsburg, and declares Vendetta her “new best friend forever.” Each episode usually follows Vendetta attempting to destroy Charlotte in some way or another, and Charlotte miraculously escaping uninjured and none the wiser.
Best Halloweeny Episode: “Toupee” (Episode 2b)
After Charlotte gifts Mr. Milk, the school’s teacher, an apple, Vendetta gets an idea. She creates a fiend to give to Mr. Milk, a toupee who promises to help him achieve all of his dreams – dating the woman he’s in love with, getting the job he’s always dreamed of, and living in Switzerland – but at a steep cost. The toupee says he’ll only help the meek Mr. Milk if he kills Charlotte. Thanks to her complete lack of awareness, the task would be incredibly easy, and the tension the episode builds during it is impressive for it short run time. The morbid conflict mixed with the oppressive and dull setting of Clamburg gives the whole episode a strangely enticing air of creepiness that fits perfectly into the holiday season.
Image via Warner Bros. TV
Next up, we have a (very loose) animated adaptation of the live-action movie, Beetlejuice! The series ran from 1989-1991, and had a total of four seasons. Tim Burton, the director of the source material, was both the developer and executive producer of this cartoon. Danny Elfman, who created the soundtrack to Beetlejuice, would also return to create the theme song. The series follows Lydia Deetz (Alyson Court) and Beetlejuice (Stephen Ouimette), two best friends who explore both the real world and the Neitherworld together. With imaginative visual direction, design, and a lot of puns, this cartoon is something of a black comedy, remembered fondly for its unique look and take on the characters.
Best Halloweeny Episode: “Bewitched, Bothered, and Beetlejuiced” (Season 2, Episode 5)
Though nearly any episode of Beetlejuice could constitute good Halloween fare, this one’s overtly holiday themes make it perfect for getting in the spooky spirit. The episode takes place on Halloween, where Lydia decides to spend the night in the Neitherworld. Her cat, Percy, tags along, only to be stolen by a gaggle of witches. In order to rescue him, Lydia and Beetlejuice disguise themselves as witches to sneak into the Witches’ Ball. The whimsically weird visuals mixed with the classic Halloween staples that is witches is what makes this episode truly Halloweeny!
Growing Up Creepie
Image via Taffy Entertainment
Growing Up Creepie is a semi-educational television show that aired from 2006-2008 on what was then Discovery Kids. The premise centers around Creepella “Creepie” Creecher (Athena Karkanis), a teenage girl who was raised by bugs. Working to keep the fact that her family are all insects, Creepie tries to survive school life and get a better footing in human society. Created by Mike Young, the series is intended to be both a fun show and a way for people to learn about insects. Each episode is punctuated with a short segment where Creepie shares information about some kind of cool creepy-crawlie.
Best Halloweeny Episode: “Frogenstein” (Episode 2b)
When Creepie is instructed to dissect a frog during science class, she instead releases it outside, where it gets hit by a truck and dies. Under the threat of getting an F in her class, Creepie reanimates the amphibian a la Victor Frankenstein. Unfortunately, the frog quickly escapes and, with its new lightning-themed powers, starts stealing the electricity from around town, leaving residents in darkness. Of course, the episode plays as a classic homage to Frankenstein in its reanimation scene, though it departs from that narrative to pursue its own quickly thereafter. But that isn’t a bad thing! The episode is lighthearted and fun to watch, with creepier plot elements that make it perfect Halloween viewing.
Mina and The Count
Image via Nickelodeon
This six-episode mini-series was created and directed by Rob Renzetti back in 1995, airing in both Cartoon Network’s What A Cartoon and Nickelodeon’s Oh Yeah! Cartoons. Featuring some notable talents, such as Mark Hamill voicing the eponymous Count, the short series had a lot going for it. Inspired by the novel Dracula, the series follows Mina Harper (Ashley Johnson), a seven-year-old girl who befriends a 700-year-old vampire named Vlad. The two quickly become best friends and spending time together, both in human and monster society, though that isn’t without its challenges.
Best Halloweeny Episode: “Interlude With A Vampire” (Episode 1)
The pilot episode of this short series has the strongest Halloween vibes to it – and how could it not? While looking for victims, Vlad enters a room he believes belongs to an older teenager named Nina Parker, but instead winds up in the room of Mina Harper, a little girl who is very insistent on being his friend, much to his chagrin. Despite its spooky atmosphere, the episode, and the series by extension, is actually rather wholesome. Halloween doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom!
Image via Nelvana
Speaking of gloom, next on our list is Ruby Gloom, a Canadian television show that ran from 2006-2008. Interestingly enough, this franchise began as a series of illustrations, later evolving into a stationary and fashion line before finally becoming a cartoon. The series stars Ruby (Sarah Gadon), a bright and optimistic human girl, who lives in a massive mansion and goes on adventures with her not-so-human friends.
Best Halloweeny Episode: “Doom With A View” (Episode 3)
Like all episodes of Ruby Gloom, this one is both adorable and totally in the Halloween spirit. When Doom the cat starts seeing a ghost, Ruby and the others think that she’s just being a cat. However, when she starts acting out, they worry she’s having a nervous breakdown. The ghost turns out to be a young ghost in training named Boo Boo, who needs to scare somebody in order to unlock his full range of powers. It’s a sweet and fun episode wrapped up in a spooky bow.
The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy
Image via Cartoon Network
The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy is a childhood classic for those of us who grew up with Cartoon Network in the 2000s. Running from 2001-2007, the premise is thus: Two kids, named Billy (Richard Steven Horvitz) and Mandy (Grey DeLisle), meet the Grim Reaper when Billy’s pet hamster dies. The kids challenge the physical embodiment of death to a game of limbo. If he wins, he gets to reap their souls; if they win, he has to be their best friend, forever. Due to Mandy’s cunning, Grim loses. The series is so sharply written, it’s still remembered and enjoyed by adults today.
Best Halloweeny Episode: “Billy & Mandy’s Jacked-Up Halloween” (Season 2, Episode 10)
With a classic cartoon comes a classic Halloween episode. Jack O’ Lantern, a former human, was a notorious prankster that evaded death at the cost of being beheaded centuries ago. During the episode, Jack returns to play his usual Halloween pranks when he manages to get his hands on Grim’s scythe. He decides to use it to exact revenge on both Endsville and Grim himself for beheading him all those years ago. The episode is an hour-long Halloween bash, an excellently indulgent holiday treat!
The Addams Family
Image via Taft Broadcasting
Speaking of classics: The Addams Family. Starting off as a comic strip in 1938, the Addams Family has enjoyed a long and beloved history. This 1973 series was quite short-lived, with only 16 episodes total, and takes a departure from the Addams’ typical mansion – literally. It follows the Addams Family going on a cross-country road trip in their Creepy Camper, and all of the adventures and chaos that ensue. The cartoon is classic low-budget 70s, featuring a tinny, canned laugh track, animation errors, and stilted animation, yet it feels incredibly nostalgic.
Best Halloweeny Episode: “Ghost Town” (Episode 10)
The Addams Family make it out West, winding up on the land of an Old Prospector, who hires the Addams Family to get rid of the ghosts haunting his land. It’s revealed that the ghosts are really a small gang searching for gold. The Addams Family are, of course, entirely unfazed. Though there are certain similarities to Scooby-Doo (as there were in many, many, many other cartoons from the 70s), it still remains unique enough with our favorite family.
The Real Ghostbusters
Image via Columbia Pictures Television
Running from 1986-1991, this series serves as something of a spin-off of the original Ghostbusters movie. The plot follows that of the original movie: the four ghostbusters (now with their secretary Janice, their accountant Louis, and Slimer) work in the city, fighting, chasing, and capturing ghosts of all shapes and sizes. From minor ghosts to legendary specters, no job is too big or small!
Best Halloweeny Episode: “When Halloween Was Forever” (Season 1, Episode 8)
Another excellent Halloween episode that sees the Ghostbusters fighting against a reality some of us would rather enjoy — an eternal Halloween. When a ghost named Samhain, aka the Spirit of Halloween, escapes from the prison he’d been held in for centuries, he sets out with one mission: to use his time-warping powers to make Halloween last forever.
Image via Crunchyroll
The only anime on our list, Warau Salesman, or The Laughing Salesman was a manga created in 1969 and later adapted into two different animes. One ran from 1988-1992, and the other through the year 2017. The series was surprisingly popular in Japan at the time of its release, though it’s fallen into relative obscurity nowadays. It follows Moguro Fukuzou, a traveling salesman, and the people he meets. He doesn’t sell a physical product, instead promising to “fill your empty soul” with a Monkey’s Paw twist. Moguro offers every sad person he encounters the opportunity to achieve whatever they want, as long as they don’t break one rule that he sets. Inevitably, they break that rule, to their often terrifying detriment. The series has a feel similar to that of The Twilight Zone, and it’s fantastic.
Best Halloweeny Episode: “Ah, My Beloved 583-Type” (Episode 3b, New Series)
Kamera Tetsuya is obsessed with trains, wanting nothing more than to ride them day in and day out. However, he’s underperforming at his job, meaning that he has to do overtime and misses being able to indulge in his hobby. His favorite model of train, the 583-Type, is mostly out of service in the country as well. Between the limited availability and consuming nature of his job, it’s nigh impossible for him to ride his favorite train. That’s when Moguro Fukuzou appears and pulls some strings to allow Kamera to ride his beloved 583-Type train. And they do, through the whole night. However, when they get off, Moguro expresses that this occasion was a one-time thing. He must never, under any circumstances, attempt to do it again. But, Kamera… Well, you know what Kamera does. And it ends up as creepy as you think!
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