You know it. WE know it. The ghosts of All Hallow’s Eve know it.
A certain population of Americans this Halloween will take their costume cues from a large swath of the year’s pop culture and prove, for better or worse, that not all zeitgeist headlines are appropriate for transformation into homemade outfits for seasonal festivities.
Some, like the quirky kids of Stranger Things, will kill; others, like Harambe, already have been, and certainly don’t deserve to be drudged up again this October by some Murray Hill frat bro. Whatever your class threshold is, EW has assembled a guide to the popular and poor-taste send-ups you’re bound to run into — or may very well find yourself dressing up as — this year. (Don’t worry if this list makes you hate 2016 even more than you already do — last year was equally miserable.)
1. Stranger Things
Let’s start on a positive note: The October opportunities to relive the breakout hit of summer are endlessly accommodating for various group sizes. Going solo, you can easily pull off a mean Eleven on your own. With two in tow, consider pairing Worried Joyce Byers with Christmas Light Communication Wall, or Nancy with Creepy Jonathan. A fivesome is obviously ideal for optimum Stranger Things costuming, but if you’re really lucky and you have a dozen nerds in your crew, consider supplementing the core four with Steve, the Demogorgon, Mr. Clarke the science teacher, and inexplicable gay icon Barb. Let it be known that THE question of Halloween this year is not “Who has to be Barb?” but rather, “Who gets to be?”
2. The Snapchat dog filter
The worst thing to happen to selfies is soon to be the worst thing to happen to your should-be classy Halloween wine party. It’s an unfortunate truth that Snapchat’s pantheon of filters will this year serve as excuses for people keen to reprise those lazy insta-costumes of transforming into an animal by way of a cheap headband, a la in Mean Girls when Karen puts on a pair of ears and is thereby a mouse, duh. The likely worst offender this year will be Snapchat’s infamously-thinning pup filter (which always reminds me of Ariana Grande for some reason?) although God help us if someone figures out how to puke rainbows or FaceSwap in person.
3. Marcia Clark
If Sarah Paulson can do it, so can you. Apologize to the most put-upon lawyer of the ‘90s by showing her love the only way you know how: With a full perm and a pantsuit. Although FYI, it’s also still not cool to go as O.J. or, sweet mercy, Nicole.
4. “I’m Beyonce’s album, Lemonade!”
Let me be quite clear on this: You’ve found the perfect marigold sundress. You’ve bought a baseball bat. You’ve even convinced your two lesser friends Kelly and Michelle to stand behind and frame you at all times. But your costume, despite its many accurate parts, is NOT Beyonce. It’s just not. Your costume is, “I’m dressed as Beyonce.” Again, let me repeat: You are not dressed as Beyonce, but rather, as the literal sentence, “I am dressed as Beyonce.” You’re not fooling anyone, Halloween or not.
5. Ryan Lochte
Others may opt to emulate the Final Five (you know — Simone, Aly, Gabby, Laurie, and the other one? I want to say… Rebecjalyn?) but you can craft your own version of America’s gold-medal meddler by showing up with a few basic ingredients, including simple USA tracksuit, a platinum grill, and the warranted indignation of an entire South American nation. And also some water, maybe? I don’t know. Don’t do this costume. Nobody cares about Ryan Lochte now any more than they ever did.
If you truly feel you must make this eye-rolling statement and go as the slain martyr gorilla of the Internet age, at least do it with some class — that is to say, do not under any circumstances buy this T-shirt or this Sexy Gorilla Costume. There’s no good way to pull this costume off without coming across as tone-deaf and tasteless, but maybe that’s a good thing. No one wants to wake up on Nov. 1 and brag to their brunch group that they went home with Harambe.
7. The South Carolina clowns
It pains me to say it, but it’s a big year for clowns. There’s the It remake, which I will actively not be seeing. There’s Trump, who is It without the panache. And then there’s civilization’s latest abysmal development: serial killer clowns who have been luring children into the woods in South Carolina and, now, several other states as well. Clowns have ruined my childhood, and now they’re coming back for round two, so be warned. As if these obscene ribald jesters weren’t already bad enough to spot on Halloween, this year you need to remain acutely aware that every clown you avoid at a party may not have even been invited. Hell, just take it one step further and improve your survival chances this year and all years by never inviting anyone who might decide to be an effing clown for an adult holiday party.
8. Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel or American History version)
A ponytail is the primary point of difference between Lin-Manuel Miranda’s fictionalized version of Alexander Hamilton and the very real founding father. Of course, Hamilton’s reach this Halloween doesn’t just stop at its title star. The colonial couture can extend to any of the show’s equally stylish ensemble members, if only because there’s no better response to someone rapping “What’s your name, man?” than “It took me 14 hours to sew this corset.”
9. The descent of Taylor Swift
Little did we know that the distraught, crazed Taylor Swift who cried off her mascara in the “Blank Space” video would be a harbinger of disaster for everyone’s favorite shake-it-offer in 2016. Remember when she got humiliated by Kim Kardashian over lying about Kanye West’s phone call? When she conveniently had jury duty the day after the VMAs? The Tom Hiddleston nightmare fever dream? Nils Sjoberg Gate? 2016 wasn’t a great year for Swift, and you can reflect that in your own costume this year with some simple red lipstick, a chic Dalmatian print, and enough runny mascara to win a marathon.
10. “Hold the Door!”
The wound is still fresh, even five months after the death of the beloved Westerosian Hagrid, but you can honor Game of Thrones’ fallen giant with a variety of outfits featuring Hodor interacting with entryways. There’s the literal approach, which is dressing as Hodor and slapping a piece of cardboard on your back. There’s the ever-dreaded pun option, which has more to do with the practical action of standing in a doorjamb and expecting people to come up to you asking what the hell you’re doing (For more on this, see No. 4, “I’m dressed as Beyonce.”). But ultimately, all Successful Hodoring™ boils down to whether you can find the right wintry rags and amass the proper body type of Hodor, regardless of whether he’s sacrificing himself for an invalid boy-king or not. If your body type isn’t right for Hodor, consider calling your local McDonald’s to ask if they’ll let you DIY an old Grimace.
11. Donald Trump
The scary rhetoric of Donald Trump’s campaign (and many of his supporters) means this could be the first and last time you can ever get away with dressing as the former reality TV host before he destroys the world by this time in 2017. That said, if you’d rather lighten the mood and keep things sweet and sexy, you can also go as Melania, provided that you can find a good costume to steal from the 2008 DNC.
12. Hillary Clinton
Okay, okay, out of fairness, there’s got to be an equally offensive thing to be said about Clinton on Halloween, so here it is: If you’re going to attend parties this year as our next president, it’s ONLY fair that you keep 33,000 pieces of candy for yourself so everyone has something to talk about.
13. Harley Quinn
Suicide Squad, the year’s cinematic equivalent of writing the words “discarded syringe” in rainbow WordArt, gave us only one worthwhile gift: Margot Robbie’s scene-stealing, aesthetically-unforgettable Harley Quinn. It’s an impressive and easily mimicked new entry in the character’s canon, and certainly a whole lot easier on both gay and straight eyes than the emaciated-Shrek pollution that is Jared Leto’s Joker. Which, unfortunately, you’ll see in equal, miserable number to the Harley Quinns this year. So, prepare yourself: If you suspect a party guest may come dressed as Harley Quinn, perhaps just be sure not to give her a plus one.
14. Pokemon Go
Recruit your smallest, most basic, most Rattata-esque friend to run around with you from party to party as you pretend you can still fit into that Child’s Large tee of Ash Ketchum you kept from 1998. Take solace in the fact that even finding a friend to geek out with you is a rare catch itself, as I predict most people who still think Pokemon Go is a thing will likely show up Ponyta and leave that way, too.
15. “Don’t talk to me or my son ever again”
This year’s “Two Dancing Girls emoji” is another identical pairing: the fabulous mini-me meme that Twitter loves to reboot every few weeks. Grab a pal and go as straight-forward twinsies, or adopt other similar meme-inspired costumes like “Get you a man who can do both” or “You vs. the guy she tells you not to worry about.” They’ll all score, really, as long as you don’t run out of patience having to explain your joke to anyone who isn’t a Teen.
16. David Bowie and friends
Not all Halloween costumes are funny — some are purely tributary and serve to pay memory to this year’s fallen heroes. Be it Ziggy Stardust Bowie, Purple Rain Prince, the vibrant spirit of Willy Wonka Gene Wilder, or even good old Severus Snape Alan Rickman, this year’s most important Halloween costumes are the ones that aren’t just timeless for this year, but for this lifetime.