The 5 Best (and 5 Worst) Pop Culture-Inspired Halloween Costumes of 2015

From Bill Nye to Miss O to Taylor Swift, try dressing up like a real pop culture hero this year. By Angela Zimmerman
The 5 Best (and 5 Worst) Pop Culture-Inspired Halloween Costumes of 2015

From gratuitously gory to super sexy, mass-marketed Halloween costumes offer some questionable choices for kids. Sure, a big part of Halloween is trying on new identities. But media-inspired costumes that push the extremes send confusing, scary, and dated messages to kids.

Among the head-scratching costume choices for 2015 are sexy versions of characters from kids' movies and TV shows, as well as costumes based on major media moments that are age-inappropriate (hello, dead Cecil the lion). Use the opportunity to talk about gender stereotypes, what's too scary, and the line between funny and cruel. Consider helping your kids make their own costumes inspired by characters that promote positive (or at least age-appropriate) messages instead. 

5 Worst Pop Culture-Inspired Costumes 

Sexy Minion from Minions
The lovable little critters from the Despicable Me franchise starred in a film of their own this summer, and they will no doubt be a popular costume on the trick-or-treat circuit -- and apparently, for adults too. When denim overalls and work goggles get sexed up, you know the sexy-character shtick has gone too far.



Dr. Palmer and dead Cecil the lion
The media storm that dominated international news outlets, Facebook, and late-night television in the wake of Cecil the lion's death by a trophy hunter earlier this year incited global outrage over the practice of poaching. But at least one vendor saw an opportunity to capitalize on the killing. We're horrified, to say the least.

Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair cover
She's one of 2015's most talked-about celebrities and today's most public face of the transgender community; her already-iconic Vanity Fair cover heralded a new era of LGBTQ acceptance. We'd hate to see kids confuse the message, and set back the moment, through misguided costuming.


Navy Seal with gun and grenades
American Sniper is a powerful portrait of a Navy Seal hero, and as one of the most successful box office movies of all time it exposed the gritty and complex realities of war to families all over America. This kid-targeted Navy Seal costume is packaged with an arsenal of weapons (grenades, an assault rifle, and a knife), a gratuitous display of weaponry for a kids' costume even for a member of the armed forces.

Frilly, pink Supergirl from Supergirl
We've loved watching Supergirl emerge as a kick-butt heroine making her own dent in the boy-dominated superhero space. So for a character who already struggles to transcend gender stereotypes, it's a bummer to see that this super frilled-up "girly" version even exists.

5 Pop Culture-Inspired Costumes We'd Like to See Instead



Bill Nye the Science Guy
Why we love it: What's not to love about Bill Nye? An enduring television presence, he's turned countless kids and teens onto science over the years by making learning fun -- and funny.
How to pull it off: Wear a loose-fitting light blue blazer or lab coat, sculpt a cowlick into your hair, and definitely don a bow tie. Tote around a beaker filled with liquid, and spew science facts from the Bill Nye app!

Doc McStuffins
Why we love it: This cartoon cutie is a terrific role model on a show that sends excellent messages to kids about gender roles, imaginative play, caring for others, and problem solving. 
How to pull it off: A white doctor’s coat, a headband, colorful clothes, and a stethoscope around the neck. Bonus points for a doctor's bag.

Miss O from Odd Squad
Why we love it: Educational and entertaining, Odd Squad has awesome math-minded characters who solve problems to save the day. Miss O is the lively lady in charge of the whole gang.
How to pull it off: A navy blue blazer or fitted jacket adorned with a shiny gold badge over a purple T-shirt. A lavender beaded necklace (and a juice box) complete her signature no-nonsense look.

Taylor Swift

Why we love it: Taylor Swift's incredible talent and charisma have inspired legions of young fans, and she's highly respected across generations as a young woman with strength and business acumen in an industry dominated by men.
How to pull it off: From cheerleader to glamour girl to polished prepster, there are plenty of ways to pull off Ms. Swift without going too far into sexy territory. Try high-waisted shorts and a tucked-in shirt, or a glittery one-piece with performance-ready hair and bright red lipstick. Want more ideas? Here are 17 Taylor Swift costume looks.


Miles from Miles from Tomorrowland
Why we love it: This terrific TV show for tots encourages kids to look to the sky with a new sense of wonder. Miles is eager and enthusiastic and always looking for ways to help on his family's missions.
How to pull it off: Wear a long-sleeved blue jacket or pullover, green pants or tights, and blue rainboots. Make your own space helmet for an awesome intergalactic accessory!

About Angela Zimmerman

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As manager of editorial partnerships, Angela is responsible for packaging and distributing articles and reviews to Common Sense's many content partners, helping people far and wide access advice and information around... Read more

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Comments (17)

Adult written by isaaclee

it is true, that as we are moving further into life, there will be many costumes that are age inapprotiate. Nothing wrong with a girl wanting to be a famous celebrity, but the only way it goes to far is if looks sexy from an adults view. how many sick people we have that will do anything to get that child. Nothing wrong with a boy dressing up as a soldier with weapons, but goes to far if it messes with his mind and wants to be a serial killer. Adult costumes though are fine. weird how you be careful what your child wants to dress up as, but you don't have to worry about what you want to dress up as.
Kid, 9 years old

Come on, it's not like tweens nowadays would be watching the newest PAW Patrol episode. I would say you should put some costumes that older kids won't be embarrassed on.
Kid, 10 years old

C'mon, it's not like all the bad costumes are marketed towards kids...I only agree that the Navy Seal is off the wall for kids tbh. How do pink frills make something bad...? Speaking of the so-called good suggestions, a Taylor Swift costume is just...sEHxy. The other pop culture substitutes to the unwanted ones are fine. 'Nuff said.
written by Amalthea

I hope you're kidding about being against the Navy Seal costume. Kids have been dressing up as soldiers for as long as there have been soldiers. I think it's a great costume idea. Since when is honoring the armed forces a BAD thing?
Adult written by micciyoyo

i'm late to this story and new to the site - I sincerely hope the taylor swift link is an aberration - it undermines everything this site purports to be
Parent of a 8 and 14 year old written by writeeditlive

Did you really link to a Popsugar Gallery that includes a bats**t crazy Taylor Swift costume? Or Cake-Stabbing Taylor??? May want to check ALL the images and suggestions next time. Unless Common Sense Media supports children running around in negligées' and carrying kitchen knives.
Adult written by lsdgls

If a girl wants to dress up in a pink frilly Supergirl outfit, she should be able to. If a boy wears a pink princess costume, everyone is so supportive. Girls should be able to wear pink frills without being judged and criticized. Also, The T Swift costumes would be appropriate for college women.
Teen, 14 years old written by McCartneyManiac14

I agree with you when you say that guys can wear any clothes they want to as well. On the contrary, Supergirl (whether from the new series or just a smaller version of Wonder Woman) isn't all sparkles and frills. Of course cute glittery costumes have no gender, CSM didn't say anything about gender. They only mean that costume in general, as to make a point that superhero costumes directed towards girls (and guys, if they wish) shouldn't have to have sparkles all over them.
Parent of a 11 and 12 year old written by jlbjones

Did anyone actually check the link to the Taylor Swift costume ideas? Many of them were equally as bad a sexy minion
Parent of a 12, 14, and 16 year old written by sallygirl

You forgot to add Olivia Pope to your list of good ideas! They can wear a big, flowy sweater or poncho, have a glass of wine (grape juice) and a bowl of popcorn!
Parent of a 8 and 14 year old written by writeeditlive

I imagine you are suggesting that Ms. Pope would be about as appropriate as Bats**t-Crazy Taylor Swift, in which case.... Great idea. *rolls eyes*
Parent of a 3, 11, 13, and 15 year old written by WildGarden

No. So inappropriate as a kid's costume. I love 'Scandal' but just no to emulating that character for Halloween.
written by Amalthea

I hope you're either being funny or ironic. Olivia Pope as a GOOD kids' idea for a costume? Her character is a horrible role model; she's a home-wrecker using her position to horn in on power.