Halloween costumes almost always take cues from celebrities, films, TV shows, and pop culture moments. These are the ones that have inspired everyone’s spooky getups over the years. From Disney movies like Frozen to superheroes and everything in-between. If you’re still unsure of what to wear this Halloween, look no further for ideas—and prepare for some major nostalgia!
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1950: Norma Desmond From Sunset Boulevard
Everyone this year was “ready for their close-up,” in the words of Norma. Her arched brows and dramatic gowns made such a standout costume.
1951: Alice in Wonderland
Can you believe the animated movie is this old? Alice’s pinafore with her socks and black shoes is basically iconic and immediately recognizable—two features that make a great Halloween costume.
1952: Singin’ in the Rain
If watching this musical didn’t make you want to splash around in a raincoat and tap-dance, I don’t know what would?
The boy who could never grow up, along with Wendy, John, Michael, Tinkerbell, and villainous Captain Hook, hit theaters this year.
Godzilla has gone through a lot of remakes over the years, but this was the original that started it all. The giant reptilian dude loved grabbing planes out of the sky, that’s for sure.
1955: Rebel Without a Cause
James Dean immortalized a red jacket, white tee, and jeans in this classic flick. Plus, his costar Natalie Wood had the best fashion sense.
1956: Anna Leonowens From The King and I
Extravagant puff-sleeve gowns, white gloves, and perfectly coiffed hair? This film character was practically made for an elegant Halloween costume during this year.
1957: Julie Andrews as Cinderella
This year, there was a live broadcast of the storybook tale on CBS, in which Julie Andrews was the titular character. She really knew how to wear a tulle dress and red lip, and everyone was inspired come October.
1958: Madeleine Elster From Vertigo
The Alfred Hitchcock film, set in San Francisco, had some incredible detective-inspired outfits, including Madeleine’s (played by Kim Novak) trench coat and gloves, seen here.
From The Seven Year Itch to Some Like It Hot (which came out this same year), the icon was at her peak and it was impossible not to run into a look-alike during Halloween.
1960: Marion Crane in Psycho
Okay, so no one was going naked on Halloween back then, but this pic is just too famous NOT to include. That being said, Marion’s style in the film, from her mock-neck shirts to her more racy lace bras, was also extremely memorable.
1961: Holly Golightly From Breakfast at Tiffany’s
I mean, this outfit is still a popular costume today, so it really stood the test of time. But when this movie first came out this year, everyone wanted to be the character—and have a long cigarette holder.
It was in the middle of his presidency (before his untimely assassination the following year) and he had just given his famous “We choose to go to the moon” speech. And with Jackie as the First Lady in her bold-colored suits and coats, this was one costume everyone would recognize right off the bat.
Lucille Ball’s follow-up to I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show was just as great of a sitcom—and just as popular of a Halloween costume.
The iconic actress married Richard Burton this year and had just come off her previous role in Cleopatra, which was a hit the year before.
The British rock band embarked on a huge American tour this year, making them even more popular. From their shaggy hair to their suits, people were obsessed.
The sci-fi show was released this year, and you couldn’t miss those bold-colored shirts with the Star Trek logo on ’em come Halloween.
Jeannie’s pink-and-red scantily clad outfit and sky-high hair was her signature look when the show debuted in ’65, but it continued to be widely popular years later.
Boo! Thanks to successful books and a cartoon, Casper the Friendly Ghost made many trick-or-treat appearances in 1968.
Elvis Presley’s NBC Comeback Special premiered in December 1968, and by next Halloween people were giving their best impressions of The King.
When The Beatles officially split in 1970, many fans wanted to relive the good ol’ days one last time.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory may have been a film about a little boy with a dream, but it was the Candy Man who stole hearts in 1971.
Halloween in 1972 was all about channeling your inner Don Vito Corleone from The Godfather.
The Brady Bunch is a classic now, but in 1973 it was one of the most popular shows on television.
1974: Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby
The first film adaptation of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel was a total throwback to the 1920s.
Before Left Shark was even a thing, Jaws was the shark getting all the attention in 1975.
In 1976, Rocky had wannabe boxers heading to the ring to emulate its lead.
If you weren’t channeling Star Wars in 1977, what were you even doing?
1978: Tony Manero from Saturday Night Fever
Many people hit the dance floor in 1978 wearing their best look from Saturday Night Fever — the film was released at the very end of 1977.
Superman made 1979 Halloween celebrators want to become the Man of Steel for a night.
1980: Daisy Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard
Cute heels and a plaid shirt helped ladies transform into Daisy Duke from Dukes of Hazzard in 1980.
You probably saw many people walking around with a hat and a whip attached to their hip in 1981 in order to become Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
In 1982, it was hard to not fall in love with Annie, the star of the eponymous film, and her infectiously positive attitude.
In 1983, Madonna fans loved the singer’s edginess and wanted any excuse to dress up like the Material Girl.
1984: The Crew From Ghostbusters
Everyone caught the supernatural bug with the release of Ghostbusters in 1984.
1985: Marty McFly from Back to the Future
In ’85, there was nobody cooler than Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future.
1986: Jem and the Holograms
For Halloween 1986, pink hair and a microphone was all the rage, thanks to the animated series Jem and the Holograms.
RoboCop was practically begging to become a Halloween favorite in 1987, and fans didn’t disappoint.
Who wouldn’t want to experience being a lazy cat like Garfield for a day?
In 1989, the first film in the Batman series was released, and fans have been dressing up as the Caped Crusader ever since.
1990: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
You can’t think about the early ’90s without thinking of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
In 1991, your dream of becoming a member of the Addams Family finally could come true.
Michelle Pfeiffer brought Catwoman to life in 1992’s Batman Returns. Cat ears for the win!
1993: A Dinosaur from Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park gave fans dinosaur fever in 1993.
1994: A Lion from The Lion King
The Lion King was released in 1994, and you might have been living under a rock if you didn’t dress up as Simba or Mufasa.
The success of Star Trek: The Next Generationseries satisfied the space dreamers in 1995.
Scream masks became the mask of all masks.
The release of “Wannabe” in 1997 had everyone saying “girl power.”
What’s not to love about a character called The Dude? This Coen brothers movie quickly became a cult fave.
Tarzan couldn’t be beat in 1999.
Halloween lovers went “yabba dabba doo” for The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas in 2000.
2001: Josie and the Pussycats
The musical comedy Josie and the Pussycats took over Halloween in 2001.
The hype for Harry Potter is still alive and well, but it started making Halloween appearances back in 2002.
In 2002, Tobey McGuire brought Spider-Man to the silver screen for the first time, causing fans to activate their spidey senses.
Walking into a party and seeing a bunch of Jack Sparrows from Pirates of the Carribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was common in 2004.
2005: The Grey’s Anatomy Cast
Grey’s Anatomy made scrubs cool in 2005.
2006: V from V for Vendetta
The mask that V wears in V for Vendetta was a Halloween smash in 2006.
Hannah Montana was one of the biggest shows on television in 2007, and girls wanted to be the one with the double life.
2008: The High School Musical Cast
High School Musical 3 had its final premiere, and it didn’t hurt to reminisce on the Wildcats.
In 2009, music lovers fell in love with Lady Gaga and her unique style.
In 2010, The Princess and the Frog captivated audiences and inspired Halloween costumes.
Glee gained a ton of attention in 2011, and viewers couldn’t help but dress as the coach of the cheerleading sqaud.
In 2012, the success of The Hunger Games meant that Katniss Everdeen inspired ladies everywhere to walk around with a bow and arrow.
Iron Man 3 was released in 2013, so you know what that means.
Frozen *everything* took over 2014, so you definitely saw one of its characters during Halloween.
2015: Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad
The heavy promotion of Suicide Squad had partygoers bringing Harley Quinn to life even before its 2016 release.
2016: The Kids from Stranger Things
If you didn’t hear about Stranger Things in 2016, you were probably living under a rock.
Halloween hasn’t happened yet, but it’s safe to say Wonder Woman will take the cake this year.
This insanely spooky movie was released a month before Halloween in 2018, and it gave people everywhere serious inspiration for a horrifying costume. Joy!
In 2019, everyone dressed up as the cast of Hustlers, because all the outfits were too damn good. Who doesn’t want to look like J.Lo?!
2020: ‘Baby Yoda’ from The Mandalorian
So what if “Baby Yoda” isn’t his real name?! The adorable Grogu was everyone’s favorite character when season 2 of The Mandalorian premiered just in time for Halloween 2020.
Hide your Dalmatians! It’s no surprise that Emma Stone’s Cruella was a major costume influence in 2021.
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