When I look at the clip above, I can practically taste the pumpkin-shaped candy corn bits that I used to use in gingerbread haunted houses (they were tasty, but you got sick of them FAST, so you'd have half the bag left for arts and crafts). For many people, this remains THE Halloween Special. Indeed, of all the shows on this site, it's the only one that is still broadcast regularly. Most of the others disappeared from the airways in the 1990s.
IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN pre-dates most of the other TV specials on this site by a solid decade, and comes from before the days when the tropes of the genre had really been codified. It doesn't go for any of the three basic plotlines of Halloween specials (The Spooky Old Lady Who is Actually Nice, The Person Who Doesn't Love Halloween Until the End of the Show, and The Chaotic Adventure That Ends With a Disco Party). It exists in a wonderful world of its own.
This was the second Peanuts special produced, following the groundbreaking "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and holds onto the distinctive, jazzy style of its predecessor, including music by Vince Guaraldi (something that most later Peanuts specials sadly lacked), all against a gorgeous autumnal backdrop.
Of all Halloween specials, this certainly holds the title for Most Dramatic Effect on Pop Culture (a title it will probably never lose, though there's always a chance that The Worst Witch will catch on as a midnight movie with audience participation and gradually take over). It remains the special that springs to most people's mind when they think of Halloween cartoons.
Consider the phrases that have entered our cultural lexicon because of it:
"All I got was a rock!"
"Clearly, we are separated by denominational differences."
"You didn't tell me you were going to kill it!"
And, my favorite, Sally's line about trick or treating: "Are you sure it's legal? I wouldn't want to be accused of taking part in a rumble."
And, of course, one absolutely can NOT have a pumpkin patch anymore without trying to make it "sincere."
Some might complain that the Flying Ace sequence goes on a bit too long, and they have a point - I'm more interested in the Great Pumpkin, the party, and the trick-or-treating than in the Snoopy subplot, which isn't all that Halloweeny. But this is a minor complaint. Any show that looks like this one and features the gorgeous "Great Pumpkin Waltz" by Vince Guaraldi gets a free pass on such things.