Normally a happy occasion for horror-loving enthusiasts, this Halloween season has been tinged with melancholy following Matthew Perry’s untimely passing. Like many comedic actors who brought joy to untold millions around the world, Perry’s life was only the latest example of a high-profile star who did so while struggling with his own personal demons later in life. But in thinking back to happier times, perhaps no appearance outside of “Friends” managed to cut to the heart of why viewers gravitated towards his role as Chandler quite like his episode of “The Simpsons.”
The definition of a blink-and-miss-it gag, Perry’s one and only appearance on “The Simpsons” occurred back in 2001 during the height of popularity for “Friends.” Before every Halloween since 1990, “The Simpsons” has debuted special “Treehouse of Horror” anthology episodes to commemorate spooky season, packing in three (mostly) unrelated storylines in a single half hour. Even more so than usual, these horror-heavy specials rely on more violent, gory, and gut-busting hilarious gags that fit right into the reason for the season. Perry’s episode in season 13, titled “Treehouse of Horror XII,” was no different.
Perhaps the best part of his appearance comes from how completely unexpected it was. The episode opens up with one segment that doesn’t involve Perry at all. In fact, it takes a shot at another popular sitcom altogether. Titled “Hex and the City,” this short involves a fortune teller putting a curse on Homer Simpson’s (Dan Castellaneta) family, which he desperately tries to undo (with the help of a magical Leprechaun, naturally). Another short, “Wiz Kids,” puts a classic “Harry Potter” spin on Bart (Nancy Cartwright) and Lisa’s (Yeardley Smith) hijinks at school. The middle portion, however, finally gives some love to Perry.