You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension. A dimension of sound. A dimension of sight. A dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both style and substance of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone is a classic Science Fiction television show which originally aired 1959-1965. Now found on the Sci-Fi channel in insomniac time-slots and in wonderfully long holiday marathons.

Rod Serling was the genius behind The Twilight Zone. Serling was previously a successful writer for the CBS show Playhouse 90. He took advantage of his fine situation and created The Twilight Zone for the same network. Serling wrote most of the episodes (Serling wrote 92 of the 156, Richard Matheson wrote most of the other good ones) and introduced and concluded them all with a cool monologue.

The best Twilight Zone episodes entertain us while and give us a nice mind fuck, making us attempt a little suburban philosophy while sitting in our living rooms. The worst ones are cheesy 30 minute horror movies. Fortunately, there are many more good episodes than bad episodes.

If you're a Simpsons fan, you've already seen about half the Twilight Zone episodes. 80% of the Treehouse of Horror episodes are parodies of Twilight Zone episodes. I'm as big a Simpson's fan as the next guy, but I can’t help think that they 'parody' a little too often for good taste.

It's been 37 years since the original Twilight Zone series ended yet almost every episode is entirely watchable today. This is quite a feat for a Science Fiction program. Think about it, early 90s Sci-Fi movies and television shows have already started getting cheesy. If you look at the individual elements of a Twilight Zone episode, they’re just as awful as anything else from that era. I mean, when they talk in detail about the spacecraft and robots, it can get ridiculous. But the premises are so great; the cheesy Sci-Fi elements really don’t interfere.

The Twilight Zone was remade in 1985 and now again in 2002. The 80s version isn’t bad, but it never reaches the level of the original. And I personally haven’t seen the newest version.

Twilight Zone: The Movie was made in 1983, with 4 of the classic segments remade... IN COLOR!!!!

The following Twilight Zone episodes have embedded themselves in pop culture. These are the ones you ought to know about, and probably already do:

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

"Portrait of a frightened man: Mr. Robert Wilson, thirty-seven, husband, father, and salesman on sick leave. Mr. Wilson has just been discharged from a sanitarium where he spent the last six months recovering from a nervous breakdown, the onset of which took place on an evening not dissimilar to this one, on an airliner very much like the one in which Mr. Wilson is about to be flown home - the difference being that, on that evening half a year ago, Mr. Wilson's flight was terminated by the onslaught of his mental breakdown. Tonight, he's traveling all the way to his appointed destination which, contrary to Mr. Wilson's plans, happens to be in the darkest corner of the Twilight Zone."

The Twilight Zone episode. Why is it so famous? Because it's The Twilight Zone at its best? No, it's a very good episode, but certainly not the best. The fact that William Shatner stars in it might be a little more of a rational explanation.

Anyway, when we watch a movie or a television show, we tend to take the main character's side. But in this episode, we know the main character could very well be crazy, and this whole thing might be a hallucination. But we're not sure. And that's what makes it great.

A Kind of Stopwatch

"Submitted for your approval or at least your analysis: one Patrick Thomas McNulty, who at age forty-one is the biggest bore on Earth. He holds a ten-year record for the most meaningless words spewed out during a coffee break. And it's very likely that, as of this moment, he would have gone through life in precisely this manner, a dull, argumentative bigmouth who sets back the art of conversation a thousand years. I say he very likely would have, except for something that will soon happen to him, something that will considerably alter his existence - and ours. Now you think about that now, because this is the Twilight Zone."

The "stopping time" idea is great in itself, but this is another Twilight Zone episode that has an ending that is, simple put: perfect.

It's a Good Life

"Tonight's story on The Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction. This, as you may recognize, is a map of the United States, and there's a little town there called Peaksville. On a given morning not too long ago, the rest of the world disappeared and Peaksville was left all alone. Its inhabitants were never sure whether the world was destroyed and only Peaksville left untouched or whether the village had somehow been taken away. They were, on the other hand, sure of one thing: the cause. A monster had arrived in the village. Just by using his mind, he took away the automobiles, the electricity, the machines - because they displeased him - and he moved an entire community back into the dark ages - just by using his mind. Now I'd like to introduce you to some of the people in Peaksville, Ohio. This is Mr. Fremont. It's in his farmhouse that the monster resides. This is Mrs. Fremont. And this is Aunt Amy, who probably had more control over the monster in the beginning than almost anyone. But one day she forgot; she began to sing aloud. Now, the monster doesn't like singing, so his mind snapped at her, turned her into the smiling, vacant thing you're looking at now. She sings no more. And you'll note that the people in Peaksville, Ohio, have to smile; they have to think happy thoughts and say happy things because, once displeased, the monster can wish them into a cornfield or change them into a grotesque, walking horror. This particular monster can read minds, you see. He knows every thought, he can feel every emotion. Oh yes, I did forget something, didn't I? I forgot to introduce you to the monster. This is the monster. His name is Anthony Fremont. He's six years old, with a cute little-boy face and blue, guileless eyes. But when those eyes look at you, you'd better start thinking happy thoughts, because the mind behind them is absolutely in charge. This is the Twilight Zone."

Long read, eh? Easily one of the best premises ever. They turn a little kid into the most horrific being you've ever seen.

Five Characters In Search Of an Exit

"Clown, hobo, ballet dancer, bagpiper, and an army major - a collection of question marks. Five improbable entities stuck together into a pit of darkness. No logic, no reason, no explanation; just a prolonged nightmare in which fear, loneliness and the unexplainable walk hand in hand through the shadows. In a moment we'll start collecting clues as to the whys, the whats and the wheres. We will not end the nightmare, we'll only explain it - because this is the Twilight Zone."

In my opinion, the epitome of a Twilight Zone episode. A piece of beauty. Five characters stuck in a doorless room. They don't know how they got there. They don't know what they're doing there. And in the end, it all makes sense.

To Serve Man

"Respectfully submitted for your approval - a Kanamit. Height: a little over nine feet. Weight: in the neighborhood of three hundred and fifty pounds. Origin: unknown. Motives? Therein hangs the tale, for in just a moment we're going to ask you to shake hands, figuratively, with a Christopher Columbus from another galaxy and another time. This is the Twilight Zone."


The various show openings:


There is a sixth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the sunlight of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area that might be called the Twilight Zone.

1st season:

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

1st season alternate:

You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!

2nd season:

You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Twilight Zone!

3rd season:

You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop, the Twilight Zone!

4th and 5th season:

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.


Despite the limitations the Comics Code Authority placed on horror comics in the Silver Age, most comic publishers turned a profit from the genre during the 1960s and 70s. Gold Key licensed horroresque tv series and celebrity hosts and set their writers and artists loose. The Outer Limits followed the show's lead by publishing SF stories. Boris Karloff's Tales of Mystery, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and Grimm’s Ghost Stories were EC-influenced, with most tales featuring ghoulies and ghosties and late-night-show beasties. The Twilight Zone, hosted by an illustrated Rod Serling, had its share of invading aliens and sinister spectres, but its better issues went in decidedly weirder directions than the rest of the Key's tales from the crypt.

Western Publishing actually first produced The Twilight Zone through Dell in 1961, switching after four issues to their new in-house Gold Key imprint and restarting at #1 in 1962. Some of the later issues were distributed under the Whitman banner. Several stories were collected and reprinted in comic digests.

The first issue features a cover story that might have been an episode of the show. A pilot returns home from a mission. He has experienced only a short passage of time— but thirty years have gone by in the world. That was the beginning. Later issues often presented deranged monsters, oddball settings, and other fare that comics could easily deliver. A child summons creatures which he then cannot make disappear. A repairman stumbles across a lost Dutch colony beneath the streets of New Amsterdam York. A clever teen discovers his science teacher is really an alien from central casting, and his homework assignments, experiments that will teach the extraterrestrials how to mind-control and subjugate the foolish earthlings. The stories and art were usually rushed and uneven, but its creators clearly knew their underage audience.

Issue #47 features a pretty good example of the kind of story you'd likely only find in an old-school comic, the kind written with kids in mind. The cover teases "Something New in Town," with the image of a phone booth and two men being menaced by what appear to be mutant giant spermatozoa. "There’s something new in town," reads the tagline, "but nobody’s talking!" Within, we read the tale of a man arriving in a deserted town and discovering, here and there, scattered, torn clothing. Eventually he realizes that the local streetlights are, in fact, bizarre, flesh-eating creatures of unknown origin. The story features no resolution—- only the image of a street at night, as a child might see it. Comic-book Serling comments on the "still, silent, stark shapes! Who knows where their armies came from, or where they're going next? But surely it must be along some highway that sometimes connects our world with... the Twilight Zone!" It's exactly the sort of thing a child's overactive imagination might concoct, walking home, with those poles towering over him, and we loved Gold Key for bringing it to life.

Like most of Gold Key's dramatic comics, The Twilight Zone sported, for most of its run, impressive if garish painted covers that set them apart on the comic rack. Serling's visage was inset somewhere, in black and white.

The Twilight Zone continued through the 1970s, as Gold Key's sales went into freefall against those of Marvel and DC. Like many of Western's licensed products, however, it outlasted the show that inspired it. It also gave Frank Miller his start in comix. The series ended in 1982 with #92 and the demise of Gold Key.

Now Comics published a new series under this title in 1993. It featured stories by notables such as Harlan Ellison and Neal Adams. In 2008, Walker Books announced a series of graphic novels based on the Twilight Zone television series. The tales and art of these later comics may be of a higher caliber than the four-color T-Zones of yore; whether they'll be recalled with the same fondness when those who read them look back remains to be seen.

Everyone knows what The Twilight Zone is: a venerable old television show, shown in reruns late at night. It looks and sounds like something from the early 60's, with men in suits, rocket ships, and cheap special effects. Every episode is introduced and concluded with a staccato description by Rod Serling, and it always has a twist ending. Its usually a little scary, but just the type of scary you can chuckle at while eating cookies at 1 AM. It is rather dated, but still charming in an early television type of way.

At least, that was what I knew about The Twilight Zone, until I started watching it, and started paying attention. Removing myself from what I had learned by pop culture osmosis, I saw that The Twilight Zone was made with skill and originality, and that even though some of the production values are dated, the drama and messages are not. There are some episodes of The Twilight Zone that still, fifty years later, seem fresh.

A great deal of the appeal of The Twilight Zone was that it was an anthology series. Each episode had a different cast of characters, as well as different sets and direction. And The Twilight Zone is probably unique amongst anthology shows in that it didn't just present a different story every week, but a different genre. Some episodes of The Twilight Zone were "hard" science-fiction, while others are fantasy or horror. There is always some element of the eerie or unusual, but it is not always supernatural as such. Episodes can also vary in tone from the dramatic, to the frightful, to the comedic. Some have serious moral lessons or commentaries, while others are simpler fare. Most Twilight Zone episodes have a "twist" of some sort at the ending, but it is not always blatant or abrupt. Opinions on what the best and worst episodes of the Twilight Zone were vary greatly. I have my own favorites, but even the Twilight Zone episodes that don't work well usually have some interesting element in them.

That being said, this is a list of Twilight Zone episodes. Unless marked otherwise, they were written by Rod Serling:

Season One

  1. Where is Everybody?
  2. One for the Angels
  3. Mr. Denton on Doomsday
  4. The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine
  5. Walking Distance
  6. Escape Clause
  7. The Lonely
  8. Time Enough at Last (Script Rod Serling, Story Lyn Venable)
  9. Perchance to Dream (Charles Beaumont)
  10. Judgment Night
  11. And When The Sky Was Opened (Script Rod Serling, Story Richard Matheson]
  12. What You Need (Script Rod Serling, Story Lewis Padgett)
  13. The Four of us are Dying (Script Rod Serling, Story George Johnson)
  14. Third From the Sun (Script Rod Serling, Story Richard Matheson)
  15. I Shot An Arrow Into the Air (Script Rod Serling, Story Madelon Champion)
  16. The Hitch-hiker (Script Rod Serling, Story Lucille Fletcher)
  17. The Fever
  18. The Last Flight (Richard Matheson)
  19. The Purple Testament
  20. Elegy (Charles Beaumont)
  21. Mirror Image
  22. The Monsters are Due on Maple Street
  23. A World of Difference (Richard Matheson)
  24. Long Live Walter Jameson (Charles Beaumont)
  25. People are Alike All Over (Script Rod Serling, Story Paul Fairman)
  26. Execution (Script Rod Serling, Story George Clayton Johnson)
  27. The Big Tall Wish
  28. A Nice Place to Visit (Charles Beaumont)
  29. Nightmare as a Child
  30. A Stop at Willoughby
  31. The Chaser (Script Robert Presnell, Jr., Story John Collier)
  32. A Passage for Trumpet
  33. Mr. Bevis
  34. The After Hours
  35. The Mighty Casey
  36. A World of His Own(Richard Matheson)

Season Two
  1. King Nine Will Not Return
  2. The Man in the Bottle
  3. Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room
  4. A Thing About Machines
  5. The Howling Man (Charles Beaumont]
  6. The Eye of the Beholder
  7. Nick of Time (Richard Matheson)
  8. The Lateness of the Hour
  9. The Trouble with Templeton (E. Jack Neuman)
  10. A Most Unusual Camera
  11. The Night of the Meek
  12. Dust
  13. Back There
  14. The Whole Truth
  15. The Invaders (Richard Matheson)
  16. A Penny for your Thoughts George Clayton Johnson
  17. Twenty Two (Rod Serling, based on a folk tale)
  18. The Odyssey of Flight 33
  19. Mr. Dingle, the Strong
  20. Static (Charles Beaumont)
  21. The Prime Mover (Charles Beaumont)
  22. Long Distance Call (Charles Beaumont and William Idelson)
  23. A Hundred Yards Over the Rim
  24. The Rip Van Winkle Caper
  25. The Silence
  26. Shadow Play
  27. The Mind and the Matter
  28. Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up
  29. The Obsolete Man

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