It's Halloween and the holiday wouldn't be complete without at least one viewing of the animated special, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."
First released in 1966, Charles M. Schulz's enduring tale follows the Peanuts gang as they celebrate the season's spookiest holiday with occasionally disastrous results, including Charlie Brown's ghost costume, which everyone confuses with a potato after he cuts one hole too many in his sheet.
Then there's Linus Van Pelt, who spends Halloween shivering in a pumpkin patch hoping for a glimpse of the Great Pumpkin, a mythical figure who rises from the pumpkin patch on Halloween night and — much like Santa Claus — delivers presents and treats to faithful children.
Whether you've grown up watching the iconic cartoon or are sitting down to watch it for the very first time, you may be wondering how and where to stream “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" in 2023.
Fortunately, we've got all the details on the Halloween feature and this is what you need to know.
How to watch 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' in 2023
"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" first aired on Oct. 27, 1966.
Since that time, the special has appeared on several different networks including CBS, PBS and ABC.
In 2018, Apple acquired the rights to the “Peanuts” catalog, including time-honored classics like “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”
Like the other specials, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" is streaming exclusively on Apple TV+, which means you won't find it on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube, Disney+ or any other platform.
If you're already a subscriber, then, good news: you're all set.
If not and you're hoping to watch the TV special for free, you can always view it trying Apple TV's 7-day free trial, which'll provide the opportunity to stream the Halloween classic free of charge this weekend.
The history of 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown'
Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the "Peanuts" gang, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1922. According to the Charles M. Schulz Museum, its namesake always dreamed of being a cartoonist. He realized that dream after his first comic strip, “Li’l Folks,” was picked up by a local newspaper when Schulz was in his 20s.
The comic featured a group of big-headed kids who acted more like adults than children, eventually evolving into “Peanuts” and becoming nationally syndicated.
In 1965, the newspaper comic strip was brought to the the small screen with the airing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The TV special became an instant hit with more than 15 million households tuning in for the premiere, according to The New York Times.
Since then, there have been nearly four dozen “Peanuts” shows, including the perennial favorite, "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," and, of course, “It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."
'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' trivia facts
If you plan on watching the "Peanuts" TV special, there's a bit of Halloween trivia that you might enjoy knowing beforehand.
For instance, according to the Washington Post, for years after "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" first aired in 1966, viewers mailed candy to Schulz's California studio out of sympathy for Charlie Brown, whose Halloween haul included just rocks and no treats.
Another fact? In traditional Lucy fashion, Charlie Brown's foe goads him into kicking a football before pulling it away at the last minute, causing him to fall. According to IMDB, the "Great Pumpkin" is the first time TV viewers see this ongoing gag, which originated in Charles Schulz's comic strip in 1951 with Violet — not Lucy — pulling the prank.
Finally, for much of his life, Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz went by the nickname "Sparky." How did he come by the unusual moniker?
According to the Charles M. Schulz museum, Schulz's uncle called the animator Sparky in reference to Spark Plug, a horse that appeared in the "Barney Google" comic strip.
And with that, we wish you a Happy Halloween — and happy viewing.
CORRECTION (Oct. 8, 2023, 8:02 a.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated that the original air date of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" was in 1996. The first airing was in 1966.