The 13th Time’s the Charm: Neil Patrick Harris & Family One-Up Themselves for Halloween Yet Again

neil patrick harris and family`
Credit: Neil Patrick Harris/Instagram/Canva

It’s an unwritten Halloween tradition. Eager fans count down the days to the big reveal. What will they be? Who will they portray? When will a photo be posted to Instagram? And how will they one-up themselves from last year? 

As predictable as Santa dropping down the chimney at midnight on Christmas Eve is the annual reveal of the Halloween costume theme selection chosen by the four members of the Neil Patrick Harris family.

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Neil Patrick Harris family in star wars costumes

Credit: Neil Patrick Harris

Harris and his partner, David Burtka, along with their fraternal twins, Harper and Gideon, have made an annual tradition of choosing a costume theme each Halloween.

An Unrivaled & Spooky Tradition

Each member of the family dons a costume that not only says who he or she is in the story or theme selected by the family but also serves to add to the narrative of the story. And when all four family members are together–Neil Patrick Harris, David Burtka, Harper, and Gideon–the Halloween magic is undeniable, and it’s a tradition they’ve enjoyed since 2011, during which the family celebrated the first Halloween following the twins’ first birthday.

In 2011, the family donned costumes from the story of Peter Pan. Harris was Captain Hook, Burtka was Peter Pan, Harper was Tinker Bell, and Gideon dressed as Smee. A year later, in 2012, the theme was The Wizard of Oz (1939), complete with the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, Dorothy, and the Cowardly Lion.

neil patrick harris david burtka harper

Neil Patrick Harris family in their annual Halloween costumes in 2011 (L) and 2012 (R)

Then, in 2013, when Harper and Gideon were three years old, the family had fans doing a double-take as they chose two different themes for their annual costume reveal. First, for a fall carnival at the twins’ preschool, the family chose Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (1951). Harris and Burtka embodied Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, and Harper and Gideon dressed as Alice in Wonderland and the White Rabbit, respectively.

neil patrick harris and family in alice in wonderland costumes

Credit: Neil Patrick Harris

But for Halloween night, the family went in another direction entirely, choosing to dress as famous monsters from old-school scary movies. Harris seems to have just the right face for Frankenstein, don’t you think?

neil-patrick-harris and family

Credit: Neil Patrick Harris

It was a monster mash-up of epic proportions as Harris dressed as Frankenstein, Gideon shape-shifted into a werewolf, Harper gave fans a new take on the Bride of Frankenstein, and Burtka showed everyone his fangs.

DC, Hollywood, and Freak Shows for the Win!

For Halloween in 2014, the family sided with DC instead of Disney, choosing to find their inner villains and superheroes. Neil Patrick Harris found that he makes a pretty good Riddler, while Burtka had us a little spooked as the Joker. Never fear, as Harper and Gideon were there to save the day and dispose of the evil-doers once and for all.

neil patrick harris and david burtka family costumes for halloween

The Harris-Burtka family embraced their superhero/villain sides in 2014 (L). The force was strong with the family, who embraced characters from “Star Wars” in 2015 (R). Credit: Neil Patrick Harris

In 2015, the force was strong with Team Harris-Burtka, as each member of the family embodied a beloved character from Star Wars. Real-life siblings Harper and Gideon were Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, while Burtka went as Han Solo and Harris embodied Obi-Wan Kenobi. We’re told that Yoda tagged along for the evening’s festivities as well.

Ever the “here’s-what-we-should-be-for-Halloween” idea mill, the family went as famous Hollywood icons in 2016: Groucho Marx, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and of course, James Dean.

Neil Patrick Harris - News

Credit: Neil Patrick Harris

A year later, the family found its weird side as each member embraced a freak show character. 

neil patrick harris and family freak show characters

Credit: Neil Patrick Harris

There was a clown, a master of ceremonies, and a strong man. But what would the group have been without the cherry on top–the bearded lady? (Thank goodness for Harper!)

Neil Patrick Harris: The Disney Parks Fandom Never Leaves

In 2018, the Harris-Burtka family pleased Disney Parks fans and other foolish mortals everywhere by becoming a foursome of happy haunts, each one (literally) embodying a departed soul from Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction. Beware of hitchhiking ghosts–and look out for Constance Harper-way. 

neil patrick harris and family dressed as haunted mansion characters

Credit: Neil Patrick Harris

Halloween 2019 found the Harris-Burtka family pinned against the wall. Literally. Each member of the family became a famous artist for the evening, even welcoming fans to the “Burtka-Harris Boo-seum of Art” and promising that “audio guides are available in the gift shop.”

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A post shared by Neil Patrick Harris (@nph)

Harris found himself a venerable Vincent van Gogh, while Burtka transformed into Salvador Dali. Harper made peace with her inner Frida Kahlo, and Gideon recreated the iconic look made famous by artist Andy Warhol. 

The Artists Become Chocolatiers

The following year, the pandemic couldn’t stop the Harris-Burtka kids from the sweet fun of trick-or-treating on Halloween in 2020, as the whole family embraced the characters created by author Roald Dahl from his iconic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, adapted into the iconic film from the 1970s starring Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

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A post shared by Neil Patrick Harris (@nph)

In the family’s annual Halloween costume reveal, David Burtka looked a bit Gene Wilder-ish as he stood behind gates that guard Wonka’s chocolate factory. Neil Patrick Harris played the part of Arthur Slugworth/Mr. Wilkinson from the 1971 musical fantasy film, and Gideon and Harper dressed as Charlie Bucket and Veruca Salt, respectively. Have you ever seen a more believable Charlie Bucket? 

The golden ticket and rainbow lollipop gave the family photo an even more deliciously believable touch.

In 2021, the Harris-Burtka clan dressed as classic horror characters. Harris became Norman Bates from Psycho, Burtka became Jack Torrence from Stephen King’s The Shining (1980), Gideon was a strikingly scary version of the evil Chucky doll, and Harper found her vibe as Regan from The Exorcist (1973). Then, in 2022, the family one-upped themselves yet again, choosing to embrace the icons from millions of Americans’ bad habits: Wendy from the fast-food chain of the same name, Burger King, Ronald McDonald, and Colonel Sanders from Kentucky Fried Chicken.

They all looked stuffed before the evening’s spooky activities even began.

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka's Family Dress as Fast Food Mascots for Halloween

Credit: Neil Patrick Harris

This year, the family really had the odds stacked against them. Who have they not yet embraced on the spookiest night of the year? How would they pull off a more epic display of imagination than they had in years before?

Halloween Steps Out of the Human Realm

But in usual fashion, Neil Patrick Harris, David Burtka, and their twins have delightfully surprised fans yet again, this year opting to step outside the human realm and attempt to embody four figures from mythology: Aphrodite, Hermes, Hades, and Poseidon.

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A post shared by Neil Patrick Harris (@nph)

Harris and company issued a decree to all their fans from high atop the infamous Mount Olympus in this year’s exciting Halloween costume reveal photo on social media.

“Atop Mount Olympus,” Harris captioned his Instagram post, “We doth decree: Happy Halloween, Mortals!” He also included the hashtags #Aphrodite #Hermes #Hades #Poseidon, naming the characters he and his family members are portraying for Halloween.

And though we’re not sure the family will be able to top this year’s costume selections, something tells us that 2024 will be even better. We will see! Wishing you all treats and no tricks this evening!

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!