back to top

Ranking Every Episode Of "The Twilight Zone"

One hundred and fifty-six episodes, countless twists. Here's how they stack up, from worst to best.

Posted on
Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

156. "The Jungle" (Season 3, Episode 12)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: William F. ClaxtonIf we could set aside the episode's blatant discomfort with African people and cultures — it follows a couple who have returned from a work trip to Africa (just "Africa") with bewitched talismans — we'd have a truly spooky story of a man trying to outrun some demons. But we probably shouldn't set all of that aside!
CBS / Via pinterest.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: William F. Claxton

If we could set aside the episode's blatant discomfort with African people and cultures — it follows a couple who have returned from a work trip to Africa (just "Africa") with bewitched talismans — we'd have a truly spooky story of a man trying to outrun some demons. But we probably shouldn't set all of that aside!

155. "The Chaser" (Season 1, Episode 31)

Writer(s): Robert Presnell Jr., based on the short story by John CollierDirector: Douglas HeyesRoger Shackleforth cannot deal with the fact that the woman of his affection isn't interested, so he gives her a love potion, becomes fed up with her devotion, and then buys poison to kill her. It could've MAAAAAYBE worked as a criticism of all the abusive would-be Romeos out there, except Roger ends up not using the poison because he finds out Leila is pregnant? And his punishment is that they stay together? So? No thanks?
CBS / Via twilightzonevortex.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Robert Presnell Jr., based on the short story by John Collier

Director: Douglas Heyes

Roger Shackleforth cannot deal with the fact that the woman of his affection isn't interested, so he gives her a love potion, becomes fed up with her devotion, and then buys poison to kill her. It could've MAAAAAYBE worked as a criticism of all the abusive would-be Romeos out there, except Roger ends up not using the poison because he finds out Leila is pregnant? And his punishment is that they stay together? So? No thanks?

154. "From Agnes — With Love" (Season 5, Episode 20)

Writer(s): Bernard C. SchoenfeldDirector: Richard DonnerThis episode — about a computer named Agnes that falls in love with her technician (a real Nice Guy, if I've ever seen one) and then sabotages his relationship — manages to be both technophobic and misogynistic. It evens closes on a comparison between women and "dangerous," "jealous" machines! You're better than this, Twilight Zone.
CBS / Via veehd.com

Writer(s): Bernard C. Schoenfeld

Director: Richard Donner

This episode — about a computer named Agnes that falls in love with her technician (a real Nice Guy, if I've ever seen one) and then sabotages his relationship — manages to be both technophobic and misogynistic. It evens closes on a comparison between women and "dangerous," "jealous" machines! You're better than this, Twilight Zone.

153. "The Fever" (Season 1, Episode 17)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Robert FloreyThe curmudgeonly Franklin is definitely not psyched about his romantic vacation at a casino, and he's constantly scolding his wife about how dumb gambling is until he finds himself in the throes of his own gambling addiction. Of course this is a very real and dangerous affliction, but the manifestation (a slot machine that garbles his name and waddles down the hallway) is just way too silly to be spooky or impactful.
CBS / Via badassdigest.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Robert Florey

The curmudgeonly Franklin is definitely not psyched about his romantic vacation at a casino, and he's constantly scolding his wife about how dumb gambling is until he finds himself in the throes of his own gambling addiction. Of course this is a very real and dangerous affliction, but the manifestation (a slot machine that garbles his name and waddles down the hallway) is just way too silly to be spooky or impactful.

152. "Jess-Belle" (Season 4, Episode 7)

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.Director: Buzz KulikIt's funny that the most common themes in The Twilight Zone are basically apocalyptic paranoia, dystopian futures, megalomaniacs, and... jealous and/or greedy women, but anyway, here we are: with a girl who makes a witch cast a love spell on her ex-boyfriend, but the price she pays is turning into a leopard every night. The fourth season is known to have some clunkers but this one is just really bad.
CBS / Via thenightgallery.wordpress.com

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.

Director: Buzz Kulik

It's funny that the most common themes in The Twilight Zone are basically apocalyptic paranoia, dystopian futures, megalomaniacs, and... jealous and/or greedy women, but anyway, here we are: with a girl who makes a witch cast a love spell on her ex-boyfriend, but the price she pays is turning into a leopard every night. The fourth season is known to have some clunkers but this one is just really bad.

151. "Execution" (Season 1, Episode 26)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on short story by George Clayton JohnsonDirector: David Orrick McDearmonA 19th-century murderer is snatched up by a 20th-century scientist as he's waiting to be hanged, travels through time to the present, kills the man who saved him, is then killed by a different criminal, who then accidentally sends himself back in time into the original murderer's place: namely, in a noose. Why do we care about either of these people?
CBS / Via basementrejects.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on short story by George Clayton Johnson

Director: David Orrick McDearmon

A 19th-century murderer is snatched up by a 20th-century scientist as he's waiting to be hanged, travels through time to the present, kills the man who saved him, is then killed by a different criminal, who then accidentally sends himself back in time into the original murderer's place: namely, in a noose. Why do we care about either of these people?

150. "A World of His Own" (Season 1, Episode 36)

Writer(s): Richard MathesonDirector(s): Ralph NelsonIf we're being honest, this might be The Twilight Zone's most unintentionally scary story, if only for the idea of a male writer literally writing his ideal woman into existence and then destroying her when she starts acting on her own will. One could argue that the consequence is that he will eventually become unhappy with this created wife, as he did with his first. But either way, hahahahah, YIKES.
CBS / Via youtube.com

Writer(s): Richard Matheson

Director(s): Ralph Nelson

If we're being honest, this might be The Twilight Zone's most unintentionally scary story, if only for the idea of a male writer literally writing his ideal woman into existence and then destroying her when she starts acting on her own will. One could argue that the consequence is that he will eventually become unhappy with this created wife, as he did with his first. But either way, hahahahah, YIKES.

149. "The Howling Man" (Season 2, Episode 5)

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont, Rod SerlingDirector: Douglas HeyesPerhaps the LEAST surprising twist in Twilight Zone history is that the caged "howling man," who is being held captive by a bunch of Moses look-alikes, is actually the devil. The show is best when its moralizing is subtle (it's kind of strange when they blame the world wars on the fact that the devil escaped its prison?) and this episode is anything but.
CBS / Via wendylovesjesus.wordpress.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont, Rod Serling

Director: Douglas Heyes

Perhaps the LEAST surprising twist in Twilight Zone history is that the caged "howling man," who is being held captive by a bunch of Moses look-alikes, is actually the devil. The show is best when its moralizing is subtle (it's kind of strange when they blame the world wars on the fact that the devil escaped its prison?) and this episode is anything but.

148. "The Bewitchin' Pool" (Season 5, Episode 36)

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.Director: Joseph M. NewmanThe show didn't really end on a high note with this finale, essentially a cautionary tale equating divorced parents with abusive ones. Little Sport and Jeb are able to escape their coldhearted parents through some kind of magic portal in their backyard swimming pool — which, granted, is some very cool Narnia-style antics — and find comfort in sweet-as-sugar old Aunt T. But Aunt T is actually super creepy! She woos dozens of children away from their "unworthy parents"? Someone should probably look into Aunt T.
CBS / Via returnofkings.com

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.

Director: Joseph M. Newman

The show didn't really end on a high note with this finale, essentially a cautionary tale equating divorced parents with abusive ones. Little Sport and Jeb are able to escape their coldhearted parents through some kind of magic portal in their backyard swimming pool — which, granted, is some very cool Narnia-style antics — and find comfort in sweet-as-sugar old Aunt T. But Aunt T is actually super creepy! She woos dozens of children away from their "unworthy parents"? Someone should probably look into Aunt T.

147. "The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms" (Season 5, Episode 10)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Alan Crosland Jr.A group of U.S. Army National Guard soldiers are practicing strategy near the site of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and then (wouldn't you know it) they pass through a time wormhole and find themselves fighting in the actual battle. It's a fine premise, but it just feels a little tone-deaf to see the guys running in glory toward tepees to fight the Lakota.
CBS / Via smith-wessonforum.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Alan Crosland Jr.

A group of U.S. Army National Guard soldiers are practicing strategy near the site of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and then (wouldn't you know it) they pass through a time wormhole and find themselves fighting in the actual battle. It's a fine premise, but it just feels a little tone-deaf to see the guys running in glory toward tepees to fight the Lakota.

146. "The Lonely" (Season 1, Episode 7)

CBS / Via chipsandbeermag.tumblr.com

Writer: Rod Serling

Director: Jack Smight

"The Lonely" is scary, but not in the way it thinks it is: not scary like, Ooooh, robots; scary like, Oooh women of the time existed largely as companions to men and not much else. It's a bummer for poor Alicia, the robot ("for all intents and purposes a woman") who is sent to a prisoner living in solitary confinement and then gets shot, but the sense is that we're supposed to be moved by the prisoner, Corry. Corry is way boring.

145. "The Mirror" (Season 3, Episode 6)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Don MedfordA Central American revolutionist overthrows a corrupt dictator only to become a corrupt dictator, killing everyone whom he believes to be an enemy, including, ultimately, himself. Oh and there's a magic mirror in the mix. A power-hungry and greedy dictator is his own worst enemy? Sure. No one's surprised. Basically, it was their take on Castro.
CBS / Via johnkennethmuir.wordpress.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Don Medford

A Central American revolutionist overthrows a corrupt dictator only to become a corrupt dictator, killing everyone whom he believes to be an enemy, including, ultimately, himself. Oh and there's a magic mirror in the mix. A power-hungry and greedy dictator is his own worst enemy? Sure. No one's surprised. Basically, it was their take on Castro.

144. "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross" (Season 5, Episode 16)

Writer(s): Jerry McNeely, based on a short story by Henry SlesarDirector: Don SiegelSalvadore Ross is a nightmarish, probable men's rights activist who has the ability to buy and sell physical and emotional characteristics, and he negotiates age and money to win over his former social worker Leah Maitland. His power is a cool concept and the lesson in his eventual death hovers in the vicinity of "You can't fake being a good person, and also women aren't rewards," but it doesn't quite land.
CBS / Via tvwheniwasborn.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Jerry McNeely, based on a short story by Henry Slesar

Director: Don Siegel

Salvadore Ross is a nightmarish, probable men's rights activist who has the ability to buy and sell physical and emotional characteristics, and he negotiates age and money to win over his former social worker Leah Maitland. His power is a cool concept and the lesson in his eventual death hovers in the vicinity of "You can't fake being a good person, and also women aren't rewards," but it doesn't quite land.

143. "The Brain Center at Whipple's" (Season 5, Episode 33)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Richard DonnerA factory owner decides to swap out his employees with robots, and, yup, it proceeds exactly as you'd expect — he doesn't realize the value of humanity in a mechanical world until he's the one who's replaced. It is one giant lecture.
CBS / Via ovguide.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Richard Donner

A factory owner decides to swap out his employees with robots, and, yup, it proceeds exactly as you'd expect — he doesn't realize the value of humanity in a mechanical world until he's the one who's replaced. It is one giant lecture.

142. "The Mighty Casey" (Season 1, Episode 35)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector(s): Alvin Ganzer, Robert ParrishWhat if robots played baseball? Apparently: They'd be really strong, their pitches would be accompanied by VERY silly sound effects, their lack of humanity would be outed and cause a brief crisis of ethics, and then they'd be given a heart, which, surprisingly, would instill them with compassion and a desire to do social work instead of athletics. It's all very smarmy.
CBS / Via rockstarr.tistory.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director(s): Alvin Ganzer, Robert Parrish

What if robots played baseball? Apparently: They'd be really strong, their pitches would be accompanied by VERY silly sound effects, their lack of humanity would be outed and cause a brief crisis of ethics, and then they'd be given a heart, which, surprisingly, would instill them with compassion and a desire to do social work instead of athletics. It's all very smarmy.

141. "Nervous Man in a Four-Dollar Room" (Season 2, Episode 3)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector(s): Douglas HeyesFun fact: This episode's nervous gangster — who's sitting alone in a hotel room, hesitant to kill a barman on his boss's orders and taunted by a more confident version of himself in the mirror— said, "Are you talkin' to me?" before DeNiro did. Aside from this, the episode, essentially a one-man show, is kind of a snooze.
CBS

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director(s): Douglas Heyes

Fun fact: This episode's nervous gangster — who's sitting alone in a hotel room, hesitant to kill a barman on his boss's orders and taunted by a more confident version of himself in the mirror— said, "Are you talkin' to me?" before DeNiro did. Aside from this, the episode, essentially a one-man show, is kind of a snooze.

140. "Sounds and Silences" (Season 5, Episode 27)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Richard DonnerSometimes you get the sense that The Twilight Zone just...ran out of ideas, which is the case with "Sounds and Silences," about a grown man who is obsessed with making a lot of noise because his mom (ugh, women) kept him quiet all his life. So now everyone hates him? It's weird.
CBS / Via twilightzonemuseum.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Richard Donner

Sometimes you get the sense that The Twilight Zone just...ran out of ideas, which is the case with "Sounds and Silences," about a grown man who is obsessed with making a lot of noise because his mom (ugh, women) kept him quiet all his life. So now everyone hates him? It's weird.

139. "I Shot an Arrow Into the Air" (Season 1, Episode 15)

Writers: Rod Serling, based on a story by Madelon Champion Director: Stuart Rosenberg So many episodes of The Twilight Zone are about space travel, and it's like, we get it. Space is really spooky! But not every space episode is created equally, and this one — the astronauts who crash-land and kill each other in survivor's paranoia before the last one figures out they were in Nevada the whole time? — is an especially tired and hokey iteration of the theme.
CBS / Via youtube.com

Writers: Rod Serling, based on a story by Madelon Champion

Director: Stuart Rosenberg

So many episodes of The Twilight Zone are about space travel, and it's like, we get it. Space is really spooky! But not every space episode is created equally, and this one — the astronauts who crash-land and kill each other in survivor's paranoia before the last one figures out they were in Nevada the whole time? — is an especially tired and hokey iteration of the theme.

138. "What's in the Box?" (Season 5, Episode 24)

Writer(s): Martin GoldsmithDirector: Richard L. BareThere are some eerie, possibly paranormal aspects of this episode (did the TV predict the future, or cause it?) but, regardless, it's still an episode about a husband murdering his wife, so. Pretty bleak.
CBS

Writer(s): Martin Goldsmith

Director: Richard L. Bare

There are some eerie, possibly paranormal aspects of this episode (did the TV predict the future, or cause it?) but, regardless, it's still an episode about a husband murdering his wife, so. Pretty bleak.

137. "Back There" (Season 2, Episode 13)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: David Orrick McDearmonWhat would you do if you could go back in time? If you're Peter Corrigan, you'd try desperately (and unsuccessfully) to save Abraham Lincoln, even though absolutely no one from the past believes you. The only thing that changes, when he returns to the present, is that the man who was previously a club attendant is now a wealthy club member. For a time travel episode, it's all remarkably low stakes.
CBS / Via twilightzonevortex.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: David Orrick McDearmon

What would you do if you could go back in time? If you're Peter Corrigan, you'd try desperately (and unsuccessfully) to save Abraham Lincoln, even though absolutely no one from the past believes you. The only thing that changes, when he returns to the present, is that the man who was previously a club attendant is now a wealthy club member. For a time travel episode, it's all remarkably low stakes.

136. "Steel" (Season 5, Episode 2)

Writer(s): Richard MathesonDirector: Don WeisIt's the future, and boxing champs have been made permanently unnecessary by ROBOT BOXERS. I mean, fine. It feels like an imperfect metaphor for the losing fight against technology.
CBS / Via bytesdaily.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Richard Matheson

Director: Don Weis

It's the future, and boxing champs have been made permanently unnecessary by ROBOT BOXERS. I mean, fine. It feels like an imperfect metaphor for the losing fight against technology.

135. "A Short Drink From a Certain Fountain" (Season 5, Episode 11)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a story by Lou HoltzDirector: Bernard GirardAn old man marries a woman 40 years his junior whose wild lifestyle he can no longer keep up with (just look at her ~youthful~ dancing), so he injects himself with an age-reversal serum. He becomes a toddler. Whoops all around. We're supposed to hate the young, money-grabbing wife, and celebrate the fact that she's now stuck with a husband-baby, but that dude knew what he was getting into.
CBS / Via sternfannetwork.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a story by Lou Holtz

Director: Bernard Girard

An old man marries a woman 40 years his junior whose wild lifestyle he can no longer keep up with (just look at her ~youthful~ dancing), so he injects himself with an age-reversal serum. He becomes a toddler. Whoops all around. We're supposed to hate the young, money-grabbing wife, and celebrate the fact that she's now stuck with a husband-baby, but that dude knew what he was getting into.

134. "The Gift" (Season 3, Episode 32)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Allen H. MinerAhhhh this is...not The Twilight Zone's best, which is a shame, because there are so few episodes featuring non-white casts! And yet, here we are: An alien who lands in a small Mexican town is killed in a witch hunt, after which the villagers make the too-late realization that he was carrying the (eye roll) cure to cancer. We get it, we get it.
CBS / Via horror-movies.ca

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Allen H. Miner

Ahhhh this is...not The Twilight Zone's best, which is a shame, because there are so few episodes featuring non-white casts! And yet, here we are: An alien who lands in a small Mexican town is killed in a witch hunt, after which the villagers make the too-late realization that he was carrying the (eye roll) cure to cancer. We get it, we get it.

133. "The Encounter" (Season 5, Episode 31)

Writer(s): Martin GoldsmithDirector: Robert ButlerTwo oppositional characters — a hostile (and racist) American WWII veteran and a young Japanese-American man — find themselves trapped together in an attic and all hell breaks loose. There's a lot of potential, but for a character-driven episode, neither character is given any real depth.
CBS / Via aveleyman.com

Writer(s): Martin Goldsmith

Director: Robert Butler

Two oppositional characters — a hostile (and racist) American WWII veteran and a young Japanese-American man — find themselves trapped together in an attic and all hell breaks loose. There's a lot of potential, but for a character-driven episode, neither character is given any real depth.

132. "Still Valley" (Season 3, Episode 11)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a short story by Manly Wade WellmanDirector: James SheldonAn old witchman tells a sergeant in the Confederate Army that he can win the war with magic, as long as he joins forces with Satan. But the sergeant decides he will never turn his back on God, burns the book of magic, and then walks with his army to their own defeat. The Civil War episodes are always pretty weak, but this one is undeniably bizarre.
CBS / Via netflix.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a short story by Manly Wade Wellman

Director: James Sheldon

An old witchman tells a sergeant in the Confederate Army that he can win the war with magic, as long as he joins forces with Satan. But the sergeant decides he will never turn his back on God, burns the book of magic, and then walks with his army to their own defeat. The Civil War episodes are always pretty weak, but this one is undeniably bizarre.

131. "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville" (Season 4, Episode 14)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a short story by Malcolm JamesonDirector: David Lowell RichLook, it's always a treat to see a sadistic and selfish businessman meet his ruin (especially when it's by his own doing!) but the truth is, this is just not one of the show's stronger devil episodes. It's just not. Seventy-five-year-old Feathersmith's trip to the past and his negotiations with "Miss Devlin" are clunky, his epiphany emotionless. It's been done better.
CBS / Via johnkennethmuir.wordpress.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a short story by Malcolm Jameson

Director: David Lowell Rich

Look, it's always a treat to see a sadistic and selfish businessman meet his ruin (especially when it's by his own doing!) but the truth is, this is just not one of the show's stronger devil episodes. It's just not. Seventy-five-year-old Feathersmith's trip to the past and his negotiations with "Miss Devlin" are clunky, his epiphany emotionless. It's been done better.

130. "Stopover in a Quiet Town" (Season 5, Episode 30)

Writer(s): Earl Hamner Jr.Director: Ron WinstonA couple wake up in a house remembering nothing of the night before other than drinking a lot and seeing a mysterious shadow on the way home. Except they aren't in their home — they're in a weird dollhouse neighborhood that belongs to some giant little girl alien-god. It's basically Serling's heavy-handed PSA against drinking and driving.
CBS / Via aveleyman.com

Writer(s): Earl Hamner Jr.

Director: Ron Winston

A couple wake up in a house remembering nothing of the night before other than drinking a lot and seeing a mysterious shadow on the way home. Except they aren't in their home — they're in a weird dollhouse neighborhood that belongs to some giant little girl alien-god. It's basically Serling's heavy-handed PSA against drinking and driving.

129. "Showdown With Rance McGrew" (Season 3, Episode 20)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on an idea by Frederick Louis FoxDirector: Christian NybySome deceased legendary outlaws from the Old West work their afterlife magic to haunt a bunch of actors who play them in movies, and teach them a lesson. Were people really concerned with Billy the Kid not getting his due? IDK. It's silly, inoffensive, but also a bit of a bore.
CBS / Via twitchfilm.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on an idea by Frederick Louis Fox

Director: Christian Nyby

Some deceased legendary outlaws from the Old West work their afterlife magic to haunt a bunch of actors who play them in movies, and teach them a lesson. Were people really concerned with Billy the Kid not getting his due? IDK. It's silly, inoffensive, but also a bit of a bore.

128. "He's Alive" (Season 4, Episode 4)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Stuart Rosenberg"He's Alive" is Serling's most heavy-handed tirade against the prejudices of his time, showing a young neo-Nazi (hi, Dennis Hopper!) leading a band of hateful followers with the help of a mysterious figure who reveals himself to be (an apparently immortal) Adolf Hitler. It's about the ways we keep evil alive through ignorance and prejudice, but with the subtlety of a mouthy middle-schooler.
CBS

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Stuart Rosenberg

"He's Alive" is Serling's most heavy-handed tirade against the prejudices of his time, showing a young neo-Nazi (hi, Dennis Hopper!) leading a band of hateful followers with the help of a mysterious figure who reveals himself to be (an apparently immortal) Adolf Hitler. It's about the ways we keep evil alive through ignorance and prejudice, but with the subtlety of a mouthy middle-schooler.

127. "Spur of the Moment" (Season 5, Episode 21)

Writer(s): Richard MathesonDirector: Elliot SilversteinA young girl fails to recognize a warning message from her future self and dooms herself to a life with a miserable and abusive man. I mean, OK? Obviously, not every episode needs a point, but this one seems especially pointless.
CBS

Writer(s): Richard Matheson

Director: Elliot Silverstein

A young girl fails to recognize a warning message from her future self and dooms herself to a life with a miserable and abusive man. I mean, OK? Obviously, not every episode needs a point, but this one seems especially pointless.

126. "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" (Season 1, Episode 3)

Writer: Rod SerlingDirector: Allen ReisnerThis story of drunken, former hotshot Mr. Denton in the Old West is just so earnest and gloomy, seemingly without reason. The peddler Fate is presented as if we should find him creepy, but he's not really a devil or a guardian angel. He's basically just a meddler. Which might be the point? Fate is apathetic.
CBS / Via thenightgallery.wordpress.com

Writer: Rod Serling

Director: Allen Reisner

This story of drunken, former hotshot Mr. Denton in the Old West is just so earnest and gloomy, seemingly without reason. The peddler Fate is presented as if we should find him creepy, but he's not really a devil or a guardian angel. He's basically just a meddler. Which might be the point? Fate is apathetic.

125. "The Old Man in the Cave" (Season 5, Episode 7)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a short story by Henry SlesarDirector: Alan Crosland Jr.It's hard to pinpoint a concrete meaning of "Old Man" (don't trust organized military; do trust computers?) but it touches on some of the most reliable Twilight Zone themes: nuclear war anxiety, mass extinction, and mob mentality.
CBS / Via jthai1138.livejournal.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a short story by Henry Slesar

Director: Alan Crosland Jr.

It's hard to pinpoint a concrete meaning of "Old Man" (don't trust organized military; do trust computers?) but it touches on some of the most reliable Twilight Zone themes: nuclear war anxiety, mass extinction, and mob mentality.

124. "No Time Like the Past" (Season 4, Episode 10)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Jus AddissThis episode — about a man so disgusted by the 20th century that he takes it upon himself to go back in time and change the past — is so bogged down in Serling's morality politics that it's impossible to parse out a narrative that's actually enjoyable. It's just. too. much.
CBS / Via usenethub.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Jus Addiss

This episode — about a man so disgusted by the 20th century that he takes it upon himself to go back in time and change the past — is so bogged down in Serling's morality politics that it's impossible to parse out a narrative that's actually enjoyable. It's just. too. much.

123. "The Last Night of a Jockey" (Season 5, Episode 5)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Joseph M. NewmanA miserable, lying, disgruntled former jockey is granted one wish by a magical "alter ego," and wastes it on making himself taller. It solves nothing because the former jockey still has a terrible personality. Then to spite him and his dumb wish, the alter ego makes him even taller! Like, impossibly tall. It would be more gratifying if we had any investment in his redemption at all.
CBS / Via jthai1138.livejournal.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Joseph M. Newman

A miserable, lying, disgruntled former jockey is granted one wish by a magical "alter ego," and wastes it on making himself taller. It solves nothing because the former jockey still has a terrible personality. Then to spite him and his dumb wish, the alter ego makes him even taller! Like, impossibly tall. It would be more gratifying if we had any investment in his redemption at all.

122. "The Fugitive" (Season 3, Episode 25)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: Richard L. BareRod Serling categorizes "The Fugitive" as a mashup of sci-fi ("the improbable made possible") and fantasy ("the impossible made probable"), and the story — of an alien king who's trying to shirk his duties by posing as a sweet old man — is convoluted in a mythical, fantastical kind of way. How cool would it have been, as a little kid, to find out your friend was actually an alien with magic powers? The fact that little Jenny grows up to be Old Ben's bride, though, is...unsettling.
CBS / Via netflix.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: Richard L. Bare

Rod Serling categorizes "The Fugitive" as a mashup of sci-fi ("the improbable made possible") and fantasy ("the impossible made probable"), and the story — of an alien king who's trying to shirk his duties by posing as a sweet old man — is convoluted in a mythical, fantastical kind of way. How cool would it have been, as a little kid, to find out your friend was actually an alien with magic powers? The fact that little Jenny grows up to be Old Ben's bride, though, is...unsettling.

121. "Black Leather Jackets" (Season 5, Episode 18)

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.Director: Joseph M. NewmanNever trust a dude in a leather jacket, because he's probably an alien sent here to poison our water supply and slowly bring about human extinction. It's silly; it's cute; it's simple.
CBS / Via veehd.com

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.

Director: Joseph M. Newman

Never trust a dude in a leather jacket, because he's probably an alien sent here to poison our water supply and slowly bring about human extinction. It's silly; it's cute; it's simple.

120. "King Nine Will Not Return" (Season 2, Episode 1)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector(s): Buzz KulikSo, uh, "King Nine" is just kind of a bummer. A sick man in a hospital bed is either suffering through hallucinations in which he revisits the site of a fatal crash he just narrowly avoided, or he's literally (magically) visiting it without actually leaving bed. Either way: pretty sad, and without any real narrative payoff.
CBS / Via twilightzonevortex.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director(s): Buzz Kulik

So, uh, "King Nine" is just kind of a bummer. A sick man in a hospital bed is either suffering through hallucinations in which he revisits the site of a fatal crash he just narrowly avoided, or he's literally (magically) visiting it without actually leaving bed. Either way: pretty sad, and without any real narrative payoff.

119. "A Quality of Mercy" (Season 3, Episode 15)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on an idea by Sam RolfeDirector: Buzz KulikA World War II lieutenant gains some new insight right before sending his men on a suicide mission, by transporting to three years prior among the Japanese army (with some makeup and an accent that will make modern audiences cringe, to boot.) It's a heavy-handed and common moral in The Twilight Zone — people are people, even when they're enemies — and it's executed well. It's just, well, a little blah.
CBS / Via netflix.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on an idea by Sam Rolfe

Director: Buzz Kulik

A World War II lieutenant gains some new insight right before sending his men on a suicide mission, by transporting to three years prior among the Japanese army (with some makeup and an accent that will make modern audiences cringe, to boot.) It's a heavy-handed and common moral in The Twilight Zone — people are people, even when they're enemies — and it's executed well. It's just, well, a little blah.

118. "Night Call" (Season 5, Episode 19)

Writer(s): Richard MathesonDirector: Jacques TourneurThis takes what could have been an awesome premise (the call is coming from inside the cemetery!!!!!) but wastes it on what The Twilight Zone does worst: teaching vaguely hateful "lessons" to women who are supposed to be too domineering, greedy, or arrogant.
CBS / Via twilightzonemuseum.com

Writer(s): Richard Matheson

Director: Jacques Tourneur

This takes what could have been an awesome premise (the call is coming from inside the cemetery!!!!!) but wastes it on what The Twilight Zone does worst: teaching vaguely hateful "lessons" to women who are supposed to be too domineering, greedy, or arrogant.

117. "The Purple Testament" (Season 1, Episode 19)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Richard L. BareA lieutenant can predict when his fellow soldiers will die, because he sees their faces illuminated by a glowing sheen: It's eerie for sure, and seems like a burden for the lieutenant (especially when he sees his own face light up) but it's not necessarily something that would keep you up at night.
CBS / Via youtube.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Richard L. Bare

A lieutenant can predict when his fellow soldiers will die, because he sees their faces illuminated by a glowing sheen: It's eerie for sure, and seems like a burden for the lieutenant (especially when he sees his own face light up) but it's not necessarily something that would keep you up at night.

116. "Probe 7, Over and Out" (Season 5, Episode 9)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Ted PostAn astronaut flees his warring planet, lands on a (mostly) uninhabited one, and meets a woman named Norda Eve. It's The Twilight Zone's version of Earth's origin story — which would be fine — except by Season 5, the "twist" that the mysterious planet was actually Earth all along has been done, like, a million times and can no longer really be called a "twist" at all.
CBS / Via johnkennethmuir.wordpress.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Ted Post

An astronaut flees his warring planet, lands on a (mostly) uninhabited one, and meets a woman named Norda Eve. It's The Twilight Zone's version of Earth's origin story — which would be fine — except by Season 5, the "twist" that the mysterious planet was actually Earth all along has been done, like, a million times and can no longer really be called a "twist" at all.

115. "Mute" (Season 4, Episode 5)

Writer(s): Richard MathesonDirector: Stuart RosenbergYoung Ilse loses her parents in a fire, and when she's sent into the world, it's revealed that they never taught her spoken language, instead developing her telepathic capabilities. It worked, but now it's useless in the outside world. There's probably a moral in here somewhere, but it sure is murky.
CBS

Writer(s): Richard Matheson

Director: Stuart Rosenberg

Young Ilse loses her parents in a fire, and when she's sent into the world, it's revealed that they never taught her spoken language, instead developing her telepathic capabilities. It worked, but now it's useless in the outside world. There's probably a moral in here somewhere, but it sure is murky.

114. "A Nice Place to Visit" (Season 1, Episode 28)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: John BrahmA criminal dies and finds himself in what he assumes is heaven, until the perpetual utopia drives him mad and he discovers it's actually "the other place." It's just a difficult concept to buy. Like, sure — Whoa, what if getting everything you've ever wanted was actually a BAD thing? — but, still, swimming in lakes of fire would be worse, as far as hellscapes go.
CBS / Via shykiabell.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: John Brahm

A criminal dies and finds himself in what he assumes is heaven, until the perpetual utopia drives him mad and he discovers it's actually "the other place." It's just a difficult concept to buy. Like, sure — Whoa, what if getting everything you've ever wanted was actually a BAD thing? — but, still, swimming in lakes of fire would be worse, as far as hellscapes go.

113. "Come Wander With Me" (Season 5, Episode 34)

Writer(s): Anthony WilsonDirector: Richard DonnerThe mysterious and vaguely depressing Mary Rachel sings a song that either foreshadows or creates the events of rockabilly Floyd Burney's life. The imagery that suggests both Floyd's and Mary's somber reality (the tombstone, the mourning woman, the implication that these events have repeated perhaps infinitely) is stirring, as is the episode's titular song, but the romance that Mary sings about doesn't bear out. Is Floyd a lost soul who has forgotten who he was? Why does everyone see him then? What's the deal?
CBS / Via tvtropes.org

Writer(s): Anthony Wilson

Director: Richard Donner

The mysterious and vaguely depressing Mary Rachel sings a song that either foreshadows or creates the events of rockabilly Floyd Burney's life. The imagery that suggests both Floyd's and Mary's somber reality (the tombstone, the mourning woman, the implication that these events have repeated perhaps infinitely) is stirring, as is the episode's titular song, but the romance that Mary sings about doesn't bear out. Is Floyd a lost soul who has forgotten who he was? Why does everyone see him then? What's the deal?

112. "A Game of Pool" (Season 3, Episode 5)

Writer(s): George Clayton JohnsonDirector: Buzz KulikPool shark Jesse Cardiff can't come out from the shadow of the late Fats Brown, Chicago's legendary billiards player. So he plays Fats' ghost to prove he's the best! It's cool; it's tense; the stakes are high. But perhaps the most interesting twist is the idea that legends who die on top of their game are forced to spend the afterlife playing anyone who summons them. Sounds like a drag! Settle for second best!
CBS / Via nerdhistory101.blogspot.com

Writer(s): George Clayton Johnson

Director: Buzz Kulik

Pool shark Jesse Cardiff can't come out from the shadow of the late Fats Brown, Chicago's legendary billiards player. So he plays Fats' ghost to prove he's the best! It's cool; it's tense; the stakes are high. But perhaps the most interesting twist is the idea that legends who die on top of their game are forced to spend the afterlife playing anyone who summons them. Sounds like a drag! Settle for second best!

111. "The Whole Truth" (Season 2, Episode 14)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: James SheldonA used car dealer buys a car that forces its owner to tell only the truth. This could've been a classic wish-fulfillment fantasy — who better to get what's coming to them than a swindling salesman? — except for the dated, but typical, political twist that pulls you out of the narrative: The dealer sells the haunted car to Nikita Khrushchev, and then gets on the phone with Jack Kennedy.
CBS / Via twilightzonevortex.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: James Sheldon

A used car dealer buys a car that forces its owner to tell only the truth. This could've been a classic wish-fulfillment fantasy — who better to get what's coming to them than a swindling salesman? — except for the dated, but typical, political twist that pulls you out of the narrative: The dealer sells the haunted car to Nikita Khrushchev, and then gets on the phone with Jack Kennedy.

110. "A Thing About Machines" (Season 2, Episode 4)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: David Orrick McDearmonA downside of our technological advances is that all of the older sci-fi based on a collective distrust of gadgets is now laughably antiquated. And "A Thing About Machines" — with stuffy Bartlett Finchley's electric razor rising up like a snake to attack him — is especially so. He does die, though, leaving the audience wondering if it was his fear that did him in, or the thing he was afraid of.
CBS / Via twilightzonevortex.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: David Orrick McDearmon

A downside of our technological advances is that all of the older sci-fi based on a collective distrust of gadgets is now laughably antiquated. And "A Thing About Machines" — with stuffy Bartlett Finchley's electric razor rising up like a snake to attack him — is especially so. He does die, though, leaving the audience wondering if it was his fear that did him in, or the thing he was afraid of.

109. "Valley of the Shadow" (Season 4, Episode 3)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: Perry LaffertyA small, out-of-the-way town in New Mexico is a hidden utopia, hiding some impressive science that could cure all diseases and solve all problems. But, as the aggressive, greedy reporter who interlopes and tries to steal the science proves, mankind just can't handle such progress. It's one of the show's more condescending episodes.
CBS / Via dvdverdict.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: Perry Lafferty

A small, out-of-the-way town in New Mexico is a hidden utopia, hiding some impressive science that could cure all diseases and solve all problems. But, as the aggressive, greedy reporter who interlopes and tries to steal the science proves, mankind just can't handle such progress. It's one of the show's more condescending episodes.

108. "I Dream of Genie" (Season 4, Episode 12)

Writer(s): John FuriaDirector: Robert GistA luckless office worker wakes up a genie who offers him one wish. After imagining a life with either love, power, or wealth, and coming to the conclusion that each leads to an empty or strenuous life, he wishes to be turned into a genie himself, who only grants wishes for the needy. The best thing about the whole episode is his dog.
CBS / Via scoreexperience.blogspot.com

Writer(s): John Furia

Director: Robert Gist

A luckless office worker wakes up a genie who offers him one wish. After imagining a life with either love, power, or wealth, and coming to the conclusion that each leads to an empty or strenuous life, he wishes to be turned into a genie himself, who only grants wishes for the needy. The best thing about the whole episode is his dog.

107. "The Mind and the Matter" (Season 2, Episode 27)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Buzz KulikMr. Beechcroft gets his hands on a how-to book on omnipotence, and then slowly scrubs every irritating, sniveling, meddlesome person away until the entire world is inhabited by dead-eyed versions of himself. It would've been scarier if he had to actually live with the consequences.
CBS / Via badassdigest.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Buzz Kulik

Mr. Beechcroft gets his hands on a how-to book on omnipotence, and then slowly scrubs every irritating, sniveling, meddlesome person away until the entire world is inhabited by dead-eyed versions of himself. It would've been scarier if he had to actually live with the consequences.

106. "Four O'Clock" (Season 3, Episode 29)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a short story by Price DayDirector: Lamont JohnsonOliver Crangle is an especially believable villain — the guy who has taken it upon himself to right all the wrongs in the world, by taking down people he's decided are evil (i.e., people whose lifestyles he disagrees with) from the comfort of his apartment. Which makes it that much more satisfying when it's Oliver Crangle himself who is punished! It's just that the punishment (shrinking down to two feet?) is really weird.
CBS / Via netflix.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a short story by Price Day

Director: Lamont Johnson

Oliver Crangle is an especially believable villain — the guy who has taken it upon himself to right all the wrongs in the world, by taking down people he's decided are evil (i.e., people whose lifestyles he disagrees with) from the comfort of his apartment. Which makes it that much more satisfying when it's Oliver Crangle himself who is punished! It's just that the punishment (shrinking down to two feet?) is really weird.

105. "The Incredible World of Horace Ford" (Season 4, Episode 15)

Writer(s): Reginald RoseDirector: Abner Biberman"Horace Ford" is a perfect example of a fourth season episode that was doomed by its longer running time. In a half hour, this story — of a man who's nostalgic to the point of disruption until he miraculously revisits his youth and realizes it wasn't as great as he remembered — could have precisely, poignantly, and effectively hit all of its emotional and narrative points, but instead it just drags and draaaaaags.
CBS / Via bardfilm.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Reginald Rose

Director: Abner Biberman

"Horace Ford" is a perfect example of a fourth season episode that was doomed by its longer running time. In a half hour, this story — of a man who's nostalgic to the point of disruption until he miraculously revisits his youth and realizes it wasn't as great as he remembered — could have precisely, poignantly, and effectively hit all of its emotional and narrative points, but instead it just drags and draaaaaags.

104. "The Jeopardy Room" (Season 5, Episode 29)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Richard Donner"The Jeopardy Room" has a provocative premise — a former KGB major is trapped in a booby-trapped hotel room and must figure out how to diffuse the planted bomb or else he'll either explode or be shot — but falls apart when it's time to follow through on the climax. He figures out that the bomb is in the phone and then just...dodges some bullets when he leaps out the door? He could've done that from the beginning then?
CBS / Via imfdb.org

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Richard Donner

"The Jeopardy Room" has a provocative premise — a former KGB major is trapped in a booby-trapped hotel room and must figure out how to diffuse the planted bomb or else he'll either explode or be shot — but falls apart when it's time to follow through on the climax. He figures out that the bomb is in the phone and then just...dodges some bullets when he leaps out the door? He could've done that from the beginning then?

103. "Person or Persons Unknown" (Season 3, Episode 27)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: John Brahm"Person or Persons Unknown" is a bare-bones execution of a frequent Twilight Zone theme: A man believes he's one thing and everyone around him tells him he's wrong. It's terrifying as always, not least of all because he's unwillingly placed in an insane asylum, but it falls flat when there's no big reveal to plump it up. It's just a dream, and then he wakes up, but still doesn't recognize his wife.
CBS / Via netflix.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: John Brahm

"Person or Persons Unknown" is a bare-bones execution of a frequent Twilight Zone theme: A man believes he's one thing and everyone around him tells him he's wrong. It's terrifying as always, not least of all because he's unwillingly placed in an insane asylum, but it falls flat when there's no big reveal to plump it up. It's just a dream, and then he wakes up, but still doesn't recognize his wife.

102. "Dust" (Season 2, Episode 12)

Writer(s) Rod SerlingDirector: Douglas HeyesA corrupt salesman cons a man by selling him sand and telling him it's magic dust that will save his son who's been sentenced to death by hanging. Miraculously, and to the peddler's surprise, it works! Just some good, old-fashioned magic.
CBS / Via coolasscinema.com

Writer(s) Rod Serling

Director: Douglas Heyes

A corrupt salesman cons a man by selling him sand and telling him it's magic dust that will save his son who's been sentenced to death by hanging. Miraculously, and to the peddler's surprise, it works! Just some good, old-fashioned magic.

101. "Queen of the Nile" (Season 5, Episode 23)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: John BrahmThis would have been a fine episode (a millenniums-old woman is posing as an actress, sucking youth from those around her — who doesn't love it?) if they'd just let her be a rando and not another white woman playing Cleopatra.
CBS / Via bardfilm.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: John Brahm

This would have been a fine episode (a millenniums-old woman is posing as an actress, sucking youth from those around her — who doesn't love it?) if they'd just let her be a rando and not another white woman playing Cleopatra.

100. "The Arrival" (Season 3, Episode 2)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Boris Sagal"The Arrival" starts so strong, with a baffling and exciting premise: A plane lands at an airport with no pilots or passengers. The plane itself is spectral as the airline inspectors walk through it, trying to rationalize what is illogical. You rarely get that scene in The Twilight Zone! It's usually just people shouting, "You're mad!" Which is why it's such a bummer when it turns out the guy is actually mad, coping with a plane lost on his watch years ago.
CBS / Via youtube.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Boris Sagal

"The Arrival" starts so strong, with a baffling and exciting premise: A plane lands at an airport with no pilots or passengers. The plane itself is spectral as the airline inspectors walk through it, trying to rationalize what is illogical. You rarely get that scene in The Twilight Zone! It's usually just people shouting, "You're mad!" Which is why it's such a bummer when it turns out the guy is actually mad, coping with a plane lost on his watch years ago.

99. "Mr. Garrity and the Graves" (Season 5, Episode 32)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, Mike KorologosDirector: Ted PostA traveling conman convinces a small town in Arizona that he can bring people back from the dead, but when he reminds the townsfolk how terrible all those deceased people were, they end up paying him NOT to revive them. But, joke's on them: Those dead people are rising anyway! It's not a groundbreaking episode, but it's silly, clever, and fun.
CBS / Via reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, Mike Korologos

Director: Ted Post

A traveling conman convinces a small town in Arizona that he can bring people back from the dead, but when he reminds the townsfolk how terrible all those deceased people were, they end up paying him NOT to revive them. But, joke's on them: Those dead people are rising anyway! It's not a groundbreaking episode, but it's silly, clever, and fun.

98. "The Changing of the Guard" (Season 3, Episode 37)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Robert Ellis MillerThis one is heartwarming but macabre, and needlessly so. A retiring professor looks back on his career and wonders if his years spent teaching were in vain, until the ghosts of past students (which means they must have died young, which is really sad) convince him they were inspired by him — and that some died heroically because of him.
CBS / Via johnkennethmuir.wordpress.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Robert Ellis Miller

This one is heartwarming but macabre, and needlessly so. A retiring professor looks back on his career and wonders if his years spent teaching were in vain, until the ghosts of past students (which means they must have died young, which is really sad) convince him they were inspired by him — and that some died heroically because of him.

97. "The Trouble With Templeton" (Season 2, Episode 9)

Writer(s): E. Jack NeumanDirector: Buzz KulikThe aging actor Booth Templeton is living in the past, unhappy with his current job and wife, so The Twilight Zone sends him back in time to his prime. The idea of visiting ghosts of the people you miss is comforting, if overdone, but the episode's twist — that those ghosts seem unwelcoming, pushing him back to the present — saves it from cliche.
CBS / Via basementrejects.com

Writer(s): E. Jack Neuman

Director: Buzz Kulik

The aging actor Booth Templeton is living in the past, unhappy with his current job and wife, so The Twilight Zone sends him back in time to his prime. The idea of visiting ghosts of the people you miss is comforting, if overdone, but the episode's twist — that those ghosts seem unwelcoming, pushing him back to the present — saves it from cliche.

96. "A Passage for Trumpet" (Season 1, Episode 32)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Don MedfordOut-of-work and alcoholic trumpet player Joey Crown is fed up with life and, after being hit by a truck and finding himself in limbo, has to decide whether it's even worth living. He decides it is, because even at its darkest, The Twilight Zone believes in the perseverance of man. It's a sweetly uplifting tale, and his realization that no one can see or hear him is so perfectly eerie.
CBS / Via veehd.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Don Medford

Out-of-work and alcoholic trumpet player Joey Crown is fed up with life and, after being hit by a truck and finding himself in limbo, has to decide whether it's even worth living. He decides it is, because even at its darkest, The Twilight Zone believes in the perseverance of man. It's a sweetly uplifting tale, and his realization that no one can see or hear him is so perfectly eerie.

95. "One More Pallbearer" (Season 3, Episode 17)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Lamont JohnsonTwists upon twists! A lifelong jerk stages a fake nuclear war in his fake bomb shelter to teach a lesson to the people who've wronged him (OR HAVE THEY?), only to be hoisted by his own petard when it turns out he's driven himself insane. There are some valid lessons about pride, and not being bullied, and understanding that your perception of the world isn't everyone's reality, but they're not done as well as in other episodes.
CBS / Via atomic-annhilation.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Lamont Johnson

Twists upon twists! A lifelong jerk stages a fake nuclear war in his fake bomb shelter to teach a lesson to the people who've wronged him (OR HAVE THEY?), only to be hoisted by his own petard when it turns out he's driven himself insane. There are some valid lessons about pride, and not being bullied, and understanding that your perception of the world isn't everyone's reality, but they're not done as well as in other episodes.

94. "The Night of the Meek" (Season 2, Episode 11)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Jack SmightA broke, alcoholic, down-and-out mall Santa who just wants to bring happiness to the world gets his wish granted, and becomes the actual Santa Claus? Delightful.
CBS / Via last.fm

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Jack Smight

A broke, alcoholic, down-and-out mall Santa who just wants to bring happiness to the world gets his wish granted, and becomes the actual Santa Claus? Delightful.

93. "A Stop at Willoughby" (Season 1, Episode 30)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Robert ParrishA New York ad man travels through a railroad wormhole to the idyllic 1888 town of Willoughby, but when he ends up back in his nightmare of a present life (complete with the show's favorite horror: a cruel and money-grubbing wife) he goes mad and ultimately kills himself trying to return. It's dark and thought-provoking but, man, The Twilight Zone really hated wives.
CBS / Via wendylovesjesus.wordpress.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Robert Parrish

A New York ad man travels through a railroad wormhole to the idyllic 1888 town of Willoughby, but when he ends up back in his nightmare of a present life (complete with the show's favorite horror: a cruel and money-grubbing wife) he goes mad and ultimately kills himself trying to return. It's dark and thought-provoking but, man, The Twilight Zone really hated wives.

92. "Static" (Season 2, Episode 20)

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont, based on a story by Oceo RitchDirector: Buzz KulikEither it's a story about a second chance, or a story about a man who loses himself to madness, but in both scenarios the centerpiece is Ed Lindsay and his obsession with the past. A radio that broadcasts programs from the 1930s and '40s could just be another tired example of The Twilight Zone capitalizing on its audience's discomfort with changing technology, but its connection to his specific regret is poignant.
CBS / Via twilightzonevortex.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont, based on a story by Oceo Ritch

Director: Buzz Kulik

Either it's a story about a second chance, or a story about a man who loses himself to madness, but in both scenarios the centerpiece is Ed Lindsay and his obsession with the past. A radio that broadcasts programs from the 1930s and '40s could just be another tired example of The Twilight Zone capitalizing on its audience's discomfort with changing technology, but its connection to his specific regret is poignant.

91. "What You Need" (Season 1, Episode 12)

Writers: Rod Serling, Henry Cuttner, C.L. MooreDirector: Alvin GanzerIf there's one thing The Twilight Zone taught us, it's that peddlers are always up to SOMETHING. This future-seeing salesman doesn't sell you what you want; he sells you what you need — and despite the mansplaining in the beginning (the woman doesn't need matches; she needs cleaner, which she'll use to woo the handsome former ballplayer), it's a decent take on the "Be careful what you wish for" trope.
CBS / Via avaxhm.com

Writers: Rod Serling, Henry Cuttner, C.L. Moore

Director: Alvin Ganzer

If there's one thing The Twilight Zone taught us, it's that peddlers are always up to SOMETHING. This future-seeing salesman doesn't sell you what you want; he sells you what you need — and despite the mansplaining in the beginning (the woman doesn't need matches; she needs cleaner, which she'll use to woo the handsome former ballplayer), it's a decent take on the "Be careful what you wish for" trope.

90. "Death Ship" (Season 4, Episode 6)

Writer(s): Richard MathesonDirector: Don MedfordThere are a few interesting theories floating around this somewhat corny episode, which follows three astronauts in the year 1997 (lol) as they explore various planets for possible human habitation— that aliens could telepathically spark humans' fear of death to keep them at bay, that the afterlife could consist of a confrontation between your "soul" and the site of your death, and that you could theoretically "live" (or, at least, exist) forever if you just eternally avoid that confrontation.
CBS / Via twilightpwn.libsyn.com

Writer(s): Richard Matheson

Director: Don Medford

There are a few interesting theories floating around this somewhat corny episode, which follows three astronauts in the year 1997 (lol) as they explore various planets for possible human habitation— that aliens could telepathically spark humans' fear of death to keep them at bay, that the afterlife could consist of a confrontation between your "soul" and the site of your death, and that you could theoretically "live" (or, at least, exist) forever if you just eternally avoid that confrontation.

89. "Once Upon a Time" (Season 3, Episode 13)

Writer(s): Richard MathesonDirector: Norman Z. McLeodIt's hard to judge "Once Upon a Time" against other episodes; it's singular in that it's really a comedy — Hi, Buster Keaton! — and an homage to the old-fashioned slapstick of silent films. But it does have that Twilight Zone touch, in the form of a "time helmet," which transports an unhappy man from 1890s to the future, where he finds he's even less happy and quickly returns. It's cute, if anticlimactic.
CBS / Via scifimusings.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Richard Matheson

Director: Norman Z. McLeod

It's hard to judge "Once Upon a Time" against other episodes; it's singular in that it's really a comedy — Hi, Buster Keaton! — and an homage to the old-fashioned slapstick of silent films. But it does have that Twilight Zone touch, in the form of a "time helmet," which transports an unhappy man from 1890s to the future, where he finds he's even less happy and quickly returns. It's cute, if anticlimactic.

88. "The Odyssey of Flight 33" (Season 2, Episode 18)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Jus AddissBeing on a plane makes any mishap exponentially scarier, especially when it's a supernatural mishap like uncontrollable time travel. The slow realization by the passengers — who aren't meaningful to the plot, but interesting in and of themselves — and the panic coming from the cockpit, are all amplified by the fact that there is absolutely no resolution. Plus: dinosaurs!
CBS / Via twilightzonevortex.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Jus Addiss

Being on a plane makes any mishap exponentially scarier, especially when it's a supernatural mishap like uncontrollable time travel. The slow realization by the passengers — who aren't meaningful to the plot, but interesting in and of themselves — and the panic coming from the cockpit, are all amplified by the fact that there is absolutely no resolution. Plus: dinosaurs!

87. "The Man in the Bottle" (Season 2, Episode 2)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector(s): Don Medford"The Man in the Bottle" could have been a timeless genie story to scare people out of greed, but it gets mired in Twilight Zone's WWII preoccupation. The final twist, when the shop owner wishes for unlimited power and realizes he's been turned into Hitler in his final moments, makes the whole thing feel stilted and anachronistic.
CBS / Via twilightzonevortex.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director(s): Don Medford

"The Man in the Bottle" could have been a timeless genie story to scare people out of greed, but it gets mired in Twilight Zone's WWII preoccupation. The final twist, when the shop owner wishes for unlimited power and realizes he's been turned into Hitler in his final moments, makes the whole thing feel stilted and anachronistic.

86. "The Passersby" (Season 3, Episode 4)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Elliot SilversteinFor all of the show's notoriously trite twists, the reveal at the end "The Passersby" is genuinely shocking. The struggle of Lavinia, who waits on her porch for her husband to return from war, unaware that she — as is he, and everyone who passes by — is long dead, tugs the heartstrings so successfully that even the weird inclusion of Lincoln doesn't ruin it.
CBS / Via smartfellowspress.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Elliot Silverstein

For all of the show's notoriously trite twists, the reveal at the end "The Passersby" is genuinely shocking. The struggle of Lavinia, who waits on her porch for her husband to return from war, unaware that she — as is he, and everyone who passes by — is long dead, tugs the heartstrings so successfully that even the weird inclusion of Lincoln doesn't ruin it.

85. "Two" (Season 3, Episode 1)

Writer(s): Montgomery PittmanDirector: Montgomery Pittman"Two" is a largely silent episode following the two lone soldiers (on opposite sides) still alive years after an apocalyptic war. It's conceptually and visually engaging, even playful, as the two figure out whether or not they'll give up their allegiances and join forces. Spoiler: They do — and the episode itself laid the groundwork for more experimental episodes in the coming seasons.
CBS / Via bnowalk.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Montgomery Pittman

Director: Montgomery Pittman

"Two" is a largely silent episode following the two lone soldiers (on opposite sides) still alive years after an apocalyptic war. It's conceptually and visually engaging, even playful, as the two figure out whether or not they'll give up their allegiances and join forces. Spoiler: They do — and the episode itself laid the groundwork for more experimental episodes in the coming seasons.

84. "Perchance to Dream" (Season 1, Episode 9)

Writer: Charles BeaumontDirector: Robert FloreyThe crux of this entire episode is in the epilogue, when Serling drops a fact about the brain's ability to make a split-second dream feel like 30 minutes. Dreams are really scary! Especially when you can't distinguish between dream and reality, and even more so when one can actually kill you.
CBS

Writer: Charles Beaumont

Director: Robert Florey

The crux of this entire episode is in the epilogue, when Serling drops a fact about the brain's ability to make a split-second dream feel like 30 minutes. Dreams are really scary! Especially when you can't distinguish between dream and reality, and even more so when one can actually kill you.

83. "The Long Morrow" (Season 5, Episode 15)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Robert FloreyAn astronaut (from 1988!!!) is supposed to be in suspended animation for 40 years while traveling through space, but he falls in love with a colleague before he goes. It's like The Gift of the Magi, if The Gift of the Magi had space travel and a sad ending — a sweet, sappy love story.
CBS / Via tv-movie-reviews.knoji.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Robert Florey

An astronaut (from 1988!!!) is supposed to be in suspended animation for 40 years while traveling through space, but he falls in love with a colleague before he goes. It's like The Gift of the Magi, if The Gift of the Magi had space travel and a sad ending — a sweet, sappy love story.

82. "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank" (Season 3, Episode 23)

Writer(s): Montgomery PittmanDirector: Montgomery PittmanThe Twilight Zone is at its best when its moral can't be pinpointed, and its resolution is anyone's best guess. "Jeff Myrtlebank" is a good example of this (except for the closing aside about the possible-demon's son who became a U.S. senator...?) with a concept that is thought-provoking enough in itself to anchor the episode: A man wakes up at his own funeral? And it turns out he's totally changed? And he's either turned a new leaf or is actually a demon? Very cool, yes please.
CBS / Via birth-of-a-notion.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Montgomery Pittman

Director: Montgomery Pittman

The Twilight Zone is at its best when its moral can't be pinpointed, and its resolution is anyone's best guess. "Jeff Myrtlebank" is a good example of this (except for the closing aside about the possible-demon's son who became a U.S. senator...?) with a concept that is thought-provoking enough in itself to anchor the episode: A man wakes up at his own funeral? And it turns out he's totally changed? And he's either turned a new leaf or is actually a demon? Very cool, yes please.

81. "Third From the Sun" (Season 1, Episode 14)

Writer: Rod Serling, Richard MathesonDirector: Richard L. BareA military scientist who's been developing H-bombs for an impending nuclear war escapes the planet with his family right before it begins, but in the last beat it's revealed the oasis they're headed to is — dun dun dun — EARTH. Maybe the whole thing is a set up for a classic twist, or maybe it's a more nihilistic commentary on how doomed we all are.
CBS / Via blip.tv

Writer: Rod Serling, Richard Matheson

Director: Richard L. Bare

A military scientist who's been developing H-bombs for an impending nuclear war escapes the planet with his family right before it begins, but in the last beat it's revealed the oasis they're headed to is — dun dun dun — EARTH. Maybe the whole thing is a set up for a classic twist, or maybe it's a more nihilistic commentary on how doomed we all are.

80. "In His Image" (Season 4, Episode 1)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: Perry LaffertyAlan is an ordinary man who one day starts feeling murderous urges, and then finds out that he's not a man at all — rather, he's the android double of another man, who's implanted him with false memories. The doubles fight. Only one survives. It's basically an updated Frankenstein, and it does the classic justice.
CBS / Via en.wikipedia.org

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: Perry Lafferty

Alan is an ordinary man who one day starts feeling murderous urges, and then finds out that he's not a man at all — rather, he's the android double of another man, who's implanted him with false memories. The doubles fight. Only one survives. It's basically an updated Frankenstein, and it does the classic justice.

79. "I Am the Night — Color Me Black" (Season 5, Episode 26)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Abner BibermanWritten partially in response to JFK's assassination, "I Am the Night" — about a man who's to be hanged for killing a bigot (hinted to be a KKK member) in self-defense — condemns a hateful and prejudiced world to permanent darkness. It's painfully preachy and certainly flawed, but since it's spreading a message of love and acceptance, we can forgive it.
CBS / Via coolasscinema.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Abner Biberman

Written partially in response to JFK's assassination, "I Am the Night" — about a man who's to be hanged for killing a bigot (hinted to be a KKK member) in self-defense — condemns a hateful and prejudiced world to permanent darkness. It's painfully preachy and certainly flawed, but since it's spreading a message of love and acceptance, we can forgive it.

78. "The Fear" (Season 5, Episode 35)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Ted PostA snobbish former fashion editor from New York and a "country bumpkin" state trooper are trapped in a remote cabin while unexplained occurrences surround them: Flashing lights! Strange noises! GIANT FOOTSTEPS! It's endearingly hokey, and the characters have legitimate chemistry; plus, the fact that it's all a parable of a woman finding her bravery is genuinely moving, if a little flawed. Plus, the forced perspective special effects for the inflatable giant are a thing of beauty.
CBS / Via netflix.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Ted Post

A snobbish former fashion editor from New York and a "country bumpkin" state trooper are trapped in a remote cabin while unexplained occurrences surround them: Flashing lights! Strange noises! GIANT FOOTSTEPS! It's endearingly hokey, and the characters have legitimate chemistry; plus, the fact that it's all a parable of a woman finding her bravery is genuinely moving, if a little flawed. Plus, the forced perspective special effects for the inflatable giant are a thing of beauty.

77. "In Praise of Pip" (Season 5, Episode 1)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Joseph M. NewmanA rueful bookie is shot and finds himself playing in an amusement park with the childhood manifestation of his son, who's actually about to die from war injuries in Vietnam. The father asks that God take his life instead of his son's, and the boy lives. It's sweet. Harmless. Moving in a boring, safe sort of way.
CBS / Via moviepilot.com!bcHKsY

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Joseph M. Newman

A rueful bookie is shot and finds himself playing in an amusement park with the childhood manifestation of his son, who's actually about to die from war injuries in Vietnam. The father asks that God take his life instead of his son's, and the boy lives. It's sweet. Harmless. Moving in a boring, safe sort of way.

76. "Deaths-Head Revisited" (Season 3, Episode 9)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Don MedfordIf there's one thing The Twilight Zone loved, it was doling out karmic vengeance to those who deserved it — and some frequent recipients of that vengeance were the Nazis. "Deaths-Head Revisited" is an especially harrowing example of this, with former SS Capt. Gunther Lutze returning to Dachau concentration camp — but in pride and nostalgia, and not shame— and being driven crazy by the ghosts of the prisoners he killed. It's chilling, and it's one of the show's more effective commentaries on the not-so-distant war.
CBS / Via pinterest.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Don Medford

If there's one thing The Twilight Zone loved, it was doling out karmic vengeance to those who deserved it — and some frequent recipients of that vengeance were the Nazis. "Deaths-Head Revisited" is an especially harrowing example of this, with former SS Capt. Gunther Lutze returning to Dachau concentration camp — but in pride and nostalgia, and not shame— and being driven crazy by the ghosts of the prisoners he killed. It's chilling, and it's one of the show's more effective commentaries on the not-so-distant war.

75. "A Hundred Yards Over the Rim" (Season 2, Episode 23)

Writer(s): Rob SerlingDirector: Buzz KulikIt's a quintessential time travel tale — pioneer man leaves the trail and stumbles into the next century, is baffled by cars, baffles others with his antiquated attire — with a young child's worsening illness providing just high enough stakes to inject some tension. It's good! It's fine. The fact that the gun the pioneer leaves behind when he goes back to the past ages 100 years in just a few minutes, and then disintegrates, is a good visual gag.
CBS / Via wikimapia.org

Writer(s): Rob Serling

Director: Buzz Kulik

It's a quintessential time travel tale — pioneer man leaves the trail and stumbles into the next century, is baffled by cars, baffles others with his antiquated attire — with a young child's worsening illness providing just high enough stakes to inject some tension. It's good! It's fine. The fact that the gun the pioneer leaves behind when he goes back to the past ages 100 years in just a few minutes, and then disintegrates, is a good visual gag.

74. "Shadow Play" (Season 2, Episode 26)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: John BrahmOne man is doomed to recurring dreams of being convicted of murder. But if you're conscious of a dream while you're in it, and can't change the outcome or wake yourself up, isn't it just as real as reality? What even makes something real, man?? (Think of the shadows on the wall of Plato's cave.) This is a great episode as is, but an excellent episode stoned.
CBS / Via badassdigest.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: John Brahm

One man is doomed to recurring dreams of being convicted of murder. But if you're conscious of a dream while you're in it, and can't change the outcome or wake yourself up, isn't it just as real as reality? What even makes something real, man?? (Think of the shadows on the wall of Plato's cave.) This is a great episode as is, but an excellent episode stoned.

73. "The Four of Us Are Dying" (Season 1, Episode 13)

Writers: Rod Serling, George Clayton JohnsonDirector: John BrahmWhat could be more devious than a face-shifting con man who can assume the identities of those he encounters? And what could be more karmically satisfying than that same con man dying in a case of mistaken identity? It's a nearly perfect episode — structurally, at least — if a bit predictable.
CBS / Via netflix.com

Writers: Rod Serling, George Clayton Johnson

Director: John Brahm

What could be more devious than a face-shifting con man who can assume the identities of those he encounters? And what could be more karmically satisfying than that same con man dying in a case of mistaken identity? It's a nearly perfect episode — structurally, at least — if a bit predictable.

72. "The Grave" (Season 3, Episode 7)

Writer(s): Montgomery PittmanDirector: Montgomery Pittman"The Grave" has so many classically creepy elements: a recently deceased man who vowed to kill his enemy from the grave; the dead man's sinister, cloaked sister, who laughs her way through a dark, windy cemetery; and of course, the mysterious death, on top of a freshly buried grave. It's the kind of urban legend you'd tell around a campfire.
CBS / Via dragondark.co.uk

Writer(s): Montgomery Pittman

Director: Montgomery Pittman

"The Grave" has so many classically creepy elements: a recently deceased man who vowed to kill his enemy from the grave; the dead man's sinister, cloaked sister, who laughs her way through a dark, windy cemetery; and of course, the mysterious death, on top of a freshly buried grave. It's the kind of urban legend you'd tell around a campfire.

71. "One for the Angels" (Season 1, Episode 2)

Writer: Rod SerlingDirector: Robert ParrishSweet Mr. Bookman leads a sweet life selling toys to sweet children, swindles Death into giving him immortality, but then sacrifices that immortality to save the life of his sweet little friend. It's all very sweet.
CBS

Writer: Rod Serling

Director: Robert Parrish

Sweet Mr. Bookman leads a sweet life selling toys to sweet children, swindles Death into giving him immortality, but then sacrifices that immortality to save the life of his sweet little friend. It's all very sweet.

70. "Cavender Is Coming" (Season 3, Episode 36)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Christian Nyby"Cavender" would be so easily dismissed — the guardian angel story line always seems especially tired — if it weren't for young Carol Burnett's delightful and infectious performance as the endearingly hapless Agnes in need of celestial help.
CBS

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Christian Nyby

"Cavender" would be so easily dismissed — the guardian angel story line always seems especially tired — if it weren't for young Carol Burnett's delightful and infectious performance as the endearingly hapless Agnes in need of celestial help.

69. "Mirror Image" (Season 1, Episode 21)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: John BrahmSometimes you get the sense The Twilight Zone is getting carried away with itself, killing the story by taking it just a few steps too far. "Mirror Image" is one of those instances. How much scarier would it have been if Millicent were just some lady who may or may not have been hallucinating a doppelgänger, and the audience never got the (campy) closure about a parallel universe with evil doubles?
CBS / Via smartfellowspress.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: John Brahm

Sometimes you get the sense The Twilight Zone is getting carried away with itself, killing the story by taking it just a few steps too far. "Mirror Image" is one of those instances. How much scarier would it have been if Millicent were just some lady who may or may not have been hallucinating a doppelgänger, and the audience never got the (campy) closure about a parallel universe with evil doubles?

68. "People Are Alike All Over" (Season 1, Episode 25)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on short story by Paul FairmanDirector: Mitchell LeisenWhat really makes "People Are Alike All Over" is, obviously, the irony. Which is to say: When the titular phrase is said in the episode — after defeatist astronaut Conrad realizes he's being held prisoner in a sort of earthling zoo — it's actually referring to the capacity of human beings to mistreat other living creatures, and not any physical or linguistic universality. It's a pretty bleak and cynical take on humanity, but also, to be fair, not that far-fetched.
CBS / Via berfrois.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on short story by Paul Fairman

Director: Mitchell Leisen

What really makes "People Are Alike All Over" is, obviously, the irony. Which is to say: When the titular phrase is said in the episode — after defeatist astronaut Conrad realizes he's being held prisoner in a sort of earthling zoo — it's actually referring to the capacity of human beings to mistreat other living creatures, and not any physical or linguistic universality. It's a pretty bleak and cynical take on humanity, but also, to be fair, not that far-fetched.

67. "Printer's Devil" (Season 4, Episode 9)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: Ralph SenenskyMr. Smith is a tricky devil, infiltrating a small-town newspaper and bringing it back from failure, but causing a little chaos along the way — most notably via a linotype machine that prints stories which become reality. There's nothing exceptional about the episode, although the doomed editor-in-chief does manage to win his soul back — but mostly it's just a lot of fun.
CBS / Via anagram-press.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: Ralph Senensky

Mr. Smith is a tricky devil, infiltrating a small-town newspaper and bringing it back from failure, but causing a little chaos along the way — most notably via a linotype machine that prints stories which become reality. There's nothing exceptional about the episode, although the doomed editor-in-chief does manage to win his soul back — but mostly it's just a lot of fun.

66. "Walking Distance" (Season 1, Episode 5)

Writer: Rod SerlingDirector: Robert StevensEveryone loves a good time travel story about meeting up with your childhood self (uhhh, Disney's The Kid, anybody?) and this is a pretty solid take on it, complete with a touching reminder that there's danger in believing your happiness is behind you.
CBS

Writer: Rod Serling

Director: Robert Stevens

Everyone loves a good time travel story about meeting up with your childhood self (uhhh, Disney's The Kid, anybody?) and this is a pretty solid take on it, complete with a touching reminder that there's danger in believing your happiness is behind you.

65. "The Obsolete Man" (Season 2, Episode 29)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Elliot SilversteinSometimes it's easy to forget that World War II would have been so fresh in the minds of Twilight Zone's audience and writers, but then you get an episode like "The Obsolete Man." The idea of a system of dictators who have snuffed out all art and independent thought in the not-so-impossible future is so panicked and moralized that it would be impossible to separate it from a general fear for the safety of (American) freedoms. But the the titular "Obsolete Man," a librarian, has some heart and ingenuity, and it's one of their more affecting dystopian futures.
CBS / Via westernrifleshooters.wordpress.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Elliot Silverstein

Sometimes it's easy to forget that World War II would have been so fresh in the minds of Twilight Zone's audience and writers, but then you get an episode like "The Obsolete Man." The idea of a system of dictators who have snuffed out all art and independent thought in the not-so-impossible future is so panicked and moralized that it would be impossible to separate it from a general fear for the safety of (American) freedoms. But the the titular "Obsolete Man," a librarian, has some heart and ingenuity, and it's one of their more affecting dystopian futures.

64. "Mr. Dingle, the Strong" (Season 2, Episode 19)

CBS / Via im1004.tumblr.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: John Brahm

This one is, simply, a pipe dream. Dingle, the perennial sad sack, is randomly chosen by aliens to receive superhuman strength and he becomes a local celeb. They take it away when he gets too big for his britches, but then some new aliens give him super smarts. Hooray for Dingle!

63. "Hocus-Pocus and Frisby" (Season 3, Episode 30)

CBS / Via im1004.tumblr.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a short story by Frederick Louis Fox

Director: Lamont Johnson

Somerset Frisby loves to embellish the truth, and his boasting gets him abducted by some aliens. When he makes it back alive, his friends — in a "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" twist — don't believe him. The episode gets buried under the classics, and it's kind of a shame. The spaceship is so campy, and the aliens are, visually, some of the scariest the series has to offer!

62. "Young Man's Fancy" (Season 3, Episode 34)

Writer(s): Richard MathesonDirector: John BrahmThe Twilight Zone scolds people for living in the past in so many slightly varied episodes, but DAMN if this one isn't truly disturbing. It's scary for Alex Walker — who misses and idealizes his late mother so much he literally turns into a kid again — but it's straight-up terrifying for his brand-new wife, who is promptly told by her ghost mother-in-law and child groom to GTFO.
CBS / Via reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Richard Matheson

Director: John Brahm

The Twilight Zone scolds people for living in the past in so many slightly varied episodes, but DAMN if this one isn't truly disturbing. It's scary for Alex Walker — who misses and idealizes his late mother so much he literally turns into a kid again — but it's straight-up terrifying for his brand-new wife, who is promptly told by her ghost mother-in-law and child groom to GTFO.

61. "Passage on the Lady Anne" (Season 4, Episode 17)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: Lamont JohnsonThis episode — about a couple six years into their marriage, who take a cruise from New York to Southampton to save their relationship — shouldn't be as good as it is. The stakes are low (we're trying to save a marriage, not all of humanity) and the conclusion is truly baffling (what do the older couples know about where that ship is heading?) but it all, simply, works.
CBS / Via twilightzonemuseum.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: Lamont Johnson

This episode — about a couple six years into their marriage, who take a cruise from New York to Southampton to save their relationship — shouldn't be as good as it is. The stakes are low (we're trying to save a marriage, not all of humanity) and the conclusion is truly baffling (what do the older couples know about where that ship is heading?) but it all, simply, works.

60. "Kick the Can" (Season 3, Episode 21)

Writer(s): George Clayton JohnsonDirector: Lamont JohnsonRetiree Charles Whitley believes that if he acts young, he'll be young, so when he convinces the people at his retirement home to play "kick the can" with him, they all miraculously turn into kids again. It's a heavy-handed message, sure — youth is a state of mind! — but it's also a particularly magical, simple, and enduring one.
CBS / Via netflix.com

Writer(s): George Clayton Johnson

Director: Lamont Johnson

Retiree Charles Whitley believes that if he acts young, he'll be young, so when he convinces the people at his retirement home to play "kick the can" with him, they all miraculously turn into kids again. It's a heavy-handed message, sure — youth is a state of mind! — but it's also a particularly magical, simple, and enduring one.

59. "The Silence" (Season 2, Episode 25)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Boris SagalThis is total wish fulfillment. Who wouldn't want to send a blowhard into a silence chamber for a year on a bet? And the morbid twist — that the insufferable talker actually removed his vocal chords to win a bet the challenger was never going to follow through on — is peak Twilight Zone: dark, ironic, emblematic of our hubris.
CBS / Via blogs.cult-labs.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Boris Sagal

This is total wish fulfillment. Who wouldn't want to send a blowhard into a silence chamber for a year on a bet? And the morbid twist — that the insufferable talker actually removed his vocal chords to win a bet the challenger was never going to follow through on — is peak Twilight Zone: dark, ironic, emblematic of our hubris.

58. "The Little People" (Season 3, Episode 28)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: William F. ClaxtonThe Twilight Zone was always particularly eager to put a power-hungry man in his place. In "The Little People," it's the astronaut Peter Craig, who lords over a civilization of tiny human-like aliens who populate the planet he's landed on, only to eventually be crushed by two giant astronauts who also happen to crash-land on the very same planet. It's karmic retribution, cut and dry, and he's so cruel, so smug, that his comeuppance couldn't be more satisfying. (Plus, the squeaking sound effects to signify the tiny people talking are just too adorable.)
CBS / Via johnkennethmuir.wordpress.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: William F. Claxton

The Twilight Zone was always particularly eager to put a power-hungry man in his place. In "The Little People," it's the astronaut Peter Craig, who lords over a civilization of tiny human-like aliens who populate the planet he's landed on, only to eventually be crushed by two giant astronauts who also happen to crash-land on the very same planet. It's karmic retribution, cut and dry, and he's so cruel, so smug, that his comeuppance couldn't be more satisfying. (Plus, the squeaking sound effects to signify the tiny people talking are just too adorable.)

57. "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine" (Season 1, Episode 4)

Writer: Rod SerlingDirector: Mitchell LeisenThe story of aging film star Barbara Jean Trenton — her obsession with reliving her prime years, and her inability to accept that her industry has thrown her aside — is so real, perpetually relevant, and INCREDIBLY depressing. It would be affecting enough even without her leaving reality to "live" in the screen, but that eerie reveal is like the cherry on top. Barbie's just too good for this world.
CBS / Via twilightpwn.libsyn.com

Writer: Rod Serling

Director: Mitchell Leisen

The story of aging film star Barbara Jean Trenton — her obsession with reliving her prime years, and her inability to accept that her industry has thrown her aside — is so real, perpetually relevant, and INCREDIBLY depressing. It would be affecting enough even without her leaving reality to "live" in the screen, but that eerie reveal is like the cherry on top. Barbie's just too good for this world.

56. "The Thirty-Fathom Grave" (Season 4, Episode 2)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Perry LaffertyA U.S. Navy chief on a ship in the Pacific is haunted by a mysterious clanging sound, which seems to be coming from a submarine on the ocean floor despite no records of any sinkings in the area. When the chief figures out its the same WWII sub he escaped during an attack years prior, he jumps to join the deceased sailors he believes are calling for him. It's sinister as hell!
CBS / Via veehd.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Perry Lafferty

A U.S. Navy chief on a ship in the Pacific is haunted by a mysterious clanging sound, which seems to be coming from a submarine on the ocean floor despite no records of any sinkings in the area. When the chief figures out its the same WWII sub he escaped during an attack years prior, he jumps to join the deceased sailors he believes are calling for him. It's sinister as hell!

55. "A World of Difference" (Season 1, Episode 23)

Writer(s): Richard MathesonDirector: Ted PostArthur Curtis is a successful businessman, happily married to a beautiful and loving wife, except for the fact that he's surrounded by a film set and stage crew who want to convince him he's actually a (very unhappy) actor named Gerry Raigan. It's scary in the same way that those nightmares in which you're on stage and have forgotten your lines are scary, but more psychologically bizarre than anything else.
CBS / Via youtube.com

Writer(s): Richard Matheson

Director: Ted Post

Arthur Curtis is a successful businessman, happily married to a beautiful and loving wife, except for the fact that he's surrounded by a film set and stage crew who want to convince him he's actually a (very unhappy) actor named Gerry Raigan. It's scary in the same way that those nightmares in which you're on stage and have forgotten your lines are scary, but more psychologically bizarre than anything else.

54. "The Parallel" (Season 4, Episode 11)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Alan Crosland Jr.There is nothing scarier than space. Hands down. We don't know what's out there, we don't know who's out there, and it is all an actual nightmare. So the idea of an astronaut blacking out while in orbit and then waking up to an unfamiliar life in what proves to be an alternate, parallel universe is just too horrifying to handle. AAAAAHHH!
CBS / Via twilightzone.wikia.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Alan Crosland Jr.

There is nothing scarier than space. Hands down. We don't know what's out there, we don't know who's out there, and it is all an actual nightmare. So the idea of an astronaut blacking out while in orbit and then waking up to an unfamiliar life in what proves to be an alternate, parallel universe is just too horrifying to handle. AAAAAHHH!

53. "The Hunt" (Season 3, Episode 19)

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.Director: Harold D. SchusterA man refuses to go to heaven without his dog? And that conviction is actually what keeps him out of hell? And they're rewarded with an eternity of raccoon chasing and square-dancing in the REAL heaven? Just try not to cry.
CBS / Via twilightpwn.libsyn.com

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.

Director: Harold D. Schuster

A man refuses to go to heaven without his dog? And that conviction is actually what keeps him out of hell? And they're rewarded with an eternity of raccoon chasing and square-dancing in the REAL heaven? Just try not to cry.

52. "Miniature" (Season 4, Episode 8)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: Walter GraumanA loner misfit becomes convinced the figures in his favorite museum's dollhouse are actually living, and after falling in love with one of the dolls, he shrinks and joins her. It's creepy; it's endearing; it's solid.
CBS / Via badassdigest.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: Walter Grauman

A loner misfit becomes convinced the figures in his favorite museum's dollhouse are actually living, and after falling in love with one of the dolls, he shrinks and joins her. It's creepy; it's endearing; it's solid.

51. "You Drive" (Season 5, Episode 14)

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.Director: John BrahmThis is straight-up retribution fantasy: A nervous driver commits a fatal hit-and-run and then has to deal with a possessed car hell-bent on either killing him or making him confess. It's excellent, and the overacted scenes of people "driving" the possessed car are like the cherry on top.
CBS / Via athrilleraday.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.

Director: John Brahm

This is straight-up retribution fantasy: A nervous driver commits a fatal hit-and-run and then has to deal with a possessed car hell-bent on either killing him or making him confess. It's excellent, and the overacted scenes of people "driving" the possessed car are like the cherry on top.

50. "The Prime Mover" (Season 2, Episode 21)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: Richard L. BareSometimes you want The Twilight Zone to get really dark, or end on an ambiguous note. Other times you just love when it ties itself up in a nice little bow. This is one of those times. It's a classic morality play, and everyone ends up better off (albeit not financially): Ace learns a valuable lesson and woos back his fiancée, and Jimbo gets to privately enjoy his telekinesis.
CBS / Via filmstokeepyouawake.wordpress.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: Richard L. Bare

Sometimes you want The Twilight Zone to get really dark, or end on an ambiguous note. Other times you just love when it ties itself up in a nice little bow. This is one of those times. It's a classic morality play, and everyone ends up better off (albeit not financially): Ace learns a valuable lesson and woos back his fiancée, and Jimbo gets to privately enjoy his telekinesis.

49. "Escape Clause" (Season 1, Episode 6)

Writer: Rod SerlingDirector: Mitchell LeisenThe ultimate irony: An insufferable hypochondriac sells his soul to the devil to ensure his own immortality, but finds out there is actually something worse than death. Dude gets so arrogant in his newfound immunity he ends up walking into a (never-ending) life sentence for a murder he didn't commit, and when he uses the escape clause — not even months later! — it is just so cruelly satisfying. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.
CBS

Writer: Rod Serling

Director: Mitchell Leisen

The ultimate irony: An insufferable hypochondriac sells his soul to the devil to ensure his own immortality, but finds out there is actually something worse than death. Dude gets so arrogant in his newfound immunity he ends up walking into a (never-ending) life sentence for a murder he didn't commit, and when he uses the escape clause — not even months later! — it is just so cruelly satisfying. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.

48. "Dead Man's Shoes" (Season 3, Episode 18)

Writer: Charles BeaumontDirector: Montgomery Pittman"Dead Man's Shoes" is one of those episodes that feels genuinely inventive, but for some reason doesn't get as much play as the more recognizable stories. A murdered man's soul is carried in his shoes, and every person who puts them on inherits his thoughts, his mannerisms, and, of course, his need for vengeance. A perfectly unsettling, menacing tale — heartbreaking for the poor man who becomes possessed, and acted out with a hearty dose of mobster-movie camp.
CBS / Via netflix.com

Writer: Charles Beaumont

Director: Montgomery Pittman

"Dead Man's Shoes" is one of those episodes that feels genuinely inventive, but for some reason doesn't get as much play as the more recognizable stories. A murdered man's soul is carried in his shoes, and every person who puts them on inherits his thoughts, his mannerisms, and, of course, his need for vengeance. A perfectly unsettling, menacing tale — heartbreaking for the poor man who becomes possessed, and acted out with a hearty dose of mobster-movie camp.

47. "The Trade-Ins" (Season 3, Episode 31)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Elliot SilversteinSometimes The Twilight Zone just nails sentimentality — a perfect ratio of sincerity and ingenuity — and the result, as in this episode, is beautiful. From the opening — watching the elderly couple being strong-armed into the body-swapping procedure, asking if there's really no pain, psyching each other up, only to find out they can only afford one procedure — to the moment they decide they'd rather just grow old together, it's impossible not to be emotionally invested.
CBS

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Elliot Silverstein

Sometimes The Twilight Zone just nails sentimentality — a perfect ratio of sincerity and ingenuity — and the result, as in this episode, is beautiful. From the opening — watching the elderly couple being strong-armed into the body-swapping procedure, asking if there's really no pain, psyching each other up, only to find out they can only afford one procedure — to the moment they decide they'd rather just grow old together, it's impossible not to be emotionally invested.

46. "I Sing the Body Electric" (Season 3, Episode 35)

Writer(s): Ray BradburyDirectors: William F. Claxton, James SheldonA widowered father of three designs and buys a robot grandma (!!!) to help take care of the kids, but big sister Anne doesn't trust her. And she shouldn't! Never trust robot grandma! The whole thing is so fucking creepy that it's a shame the episode flips and makes robot grandma ultimately selfless and fine. The shift in tone is understandable, though: The audience — though A-OK with a father who is so inept at fathering that he needs a robot to raise them — probably wasn't ready for an old lady robot that murdered instead of nurtured.
CBS

Writer(s): Ray Bradbury

Directors: William F. Claxton, James Sheldon

A widowered father of three designs and buys a robot grandma (!!!) to help take care of the kids, but big sister Anne doesn't trust her. And she shouldn't! Never trust robot grandma! The whole thing is so fucking creepy that it's a shame the episode flips and makes robot grandma ultimately selfless and fine. The shift in tone is understandable, though: The audience — though A-OK with a father who is so inept at fathering that he needs a robot to raise them — probably wasn't ready for an old lady robot that murdered instead of nurtured.

45. "Ninety Years Without Slumbering" (Season 5, Episode 12)

Writer(s): Richard De Roy, based on a story by George Clayton JohnsonDirector: Roger KayAn old man believes he will die when his grandfather clock stops ticking, but when it does stop and his spirit comes to whisk him away, he's like, "Nuh-uh." It's a pleasant little reminder that living a life in constant fear of death isn't really living anyway.
CBS / Via dvdtalk.com

Writer(s): Richard De Roy, based on a story by George Clayton Johnson

Director: Roger Kay

An old man believes he will die when his grandfather clock stops ticking, but when it does stop and his spirit comes to whisk him away, he's like, "Nuh-uh." It's a pleasant little reminder that living a life in constant fear of death isn't really living anyway.

44. "A Most Unusual Camera" (Season 2, Episode 10)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: John RichIf you want a cautionary tale against greed and all of its inevitable pitfalls, The Twilight Zone has plenty to offer — but as far as they all go, "A Most Unusual Camera" is one of the more entertaining options. A group of bandits finds a camera that spits out pictures of what's going to happen five minutes in the future? Very awesome.
CBS / Via netflix.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: John Rich

If you want a cautionary tale against greed and all of its inevitable pitfalls, The Twilight Zone has plenty to offer — but as far as they all go, "A Most Unusual Camera" is one of the more entertaining options. A group of bandits finds a camera that spits out pictures of what's going to happen five minutes in the future? Very awesome.

43. "Judgment Night" (Season 1, Episode 10)

Writer: Rod SerlingDirector: John BrahmThe premise of "Judgment Night" is deeply horrifying: Hell is real, and it consists of being on the receiving end of your worst living deeds for all of eternity. In Carl Lanser's case, those deeds are brutal war killings. The moral is beaten over our heads, but, again, no one's watching The Twilight Zone for its subtlety, and this is one of its better executions of WWII retribution stories.
CBS / Via horrornews.net

Writer: Rod Serling

Director: John Brahm

The premise of "Judgment Night" is deeply horrifying: Hell is real, and it consists of being on the receiving end of your worst living deeds for all of eternity. In Carl Lanser's case, those deeds are brutal war killings. The moral is beaten over our heads, but, again, no one's watching The Twilight Zone for its subtlety, and this is one of its better executions of WWII retribution stories.

42. "Long Live Walter Jameson" (Season 1, Episode 24)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: Anton LeaderA secretly immortal college professor's cover is blown when his colleague (and the father of his fiancée) sees his face in a Civil War photo. The episode is filled with antiquated conversation about fathers "giving permission" to their daughters to marry, but, setting that aside, the father is truly a badass, telling his daughter not to marry this immortal dope who'll just abandon her as she ages, and advising her to focus on her studies instead.
CBS / Via baseballthinkfactory.org

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: Anton Leader

A secretly immortal college professor's cover is blown when his colleague (and the father of his fiancée) sees his face in a Civil War photo. The episode is filled with antiquated conversation about fathers "giving permission" to their daughters to marry, but, setting that aside, the father is truly a badass, telling his daughter not to marry this immortal dope who'll just abandon her as she ages, and advising her to focus on her studies instead.

41. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (Season 5, Episode 22)

Writer(s): Robert Enrico, based on a story by Ambrose BierceDirector: Robert Enrico"An Occurrence" is an outlier for a few reasons — it's actually a French short that The Twilight Zone bought rights to broadcast, and it's also dialogue-less and uncharacteristically somber — but the story of a Civil War soldier who has one last fantasy as he is hanged is stunning.
CBS

Writer(s): Robert Enrico, based on a story by Ambrose Bierce

Director: Robert Enrico

"An Occurrence" is an outlier for a few reasons — it's actually a French short that The Twilight Zone bought rights to broadcast, and it's also dialogue-less and uncharacteristically somber — but the story of a Civil War soldier who has one last fantasy as he is hanged is stunning.

40. "The Bard" (Season 4, Episode 18)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: David ButlerHumor isn't really Serling's strong suit, but something just clicks in "The Bard," a story about a struggling screenwriter who accidentally conjures the ghost of William Shakespeare while researching black magic for a script. The episode is ahead of its time in its subtle skewering of the television industry — even a teleplay by the Bard isn't safe from notes and revisions from the network and sponsors — and, at points, it's laugh-out-loud funny.
CBS / Via bardfilm.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: David Butler

Humor isn't really Serling's strong suit, but something just clicks in "The Bard," a story about a struggling screenwriter who accidentally conjures the ghost of William Shakespeare while researching black magic for a script. The episode is ahead of its time in its subtle skewering of the television industry — even a teleplay by the Bard isn't safe from notes and revisions from the network and sponsors — and, at points, it's laugh-out-loud funny.

39. "The New Exhibit" (Season 4, Episode 13)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: John BrahmThe only thing scarier than wax figures are wax figure likenesses of serial killers. Whether they came to life and killed their owner's wife, brother-in-law, and best friend, or they just compelled their owner to do their bidding, this is still a veritable horror.
CBS / Via gameinformer.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: John Brahm

The only thing scarier than wax figures are wax figure likenesses of serial killers. Whether they came to life and killed their owner's wife, brother-in-law, and best friend, or they just compelled their owner to do their bidding, this is still a veritable horror.

38. "A Kind of Stopwatch" (Season 5, Episode 4)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a story by Michael D. RosenthalDirector: John RichThe Twilight Zone is great at taking circumstances you think would be great, and then flipping them, cruelly reminding you that the world is chaos and nothing works like it should. Like, for instance, a stopwatch that stops time but then breaks and leaves its owner trapped within a world of frozen humans for all of eternity.
CBS / Via blogs.walkerart.org

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a story by Michael D. Rosenthal

Director: John Rich

The Twilight Zone is great at taking circumstances you think would be great, and then flipping them, cruelly reminding you that the world is chaos and nothing works like it should. Like, for instance, a stopwatch that stops time but then breaks and leaves its owner trapped within a world of frozen humans for all of eternity.

37. "Ring-a-Ding Girl" (Season 5, Episode 13)

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.Director: Alan Crosland Jr.There's no better twist than finding out the person you'd been interacting with for a full day was ~never really there at all~, especially when the phenomenon isn't explained. So, yes, the magic ring visions are a little cheesy, but the plot — a famous actress returns to her hometown to save them from a fallen plane that she's actually on — is surprisingly hard to predict, and the payoff is better than most.
CBS / Via twilightzone.wikia.com

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.

Director: Alan Crosland Jr.

There's no better twist than finding out the person you'd been interacting with for a full day was ~never really there at all~, especially when the phenomenon isn't explained. So, yes, the magic ring visions are a little cheesy, but the plot — a famous actress returns to her hometown to save them from a fallen plane that she's actually on — is surprisingly hard to predict, and the payoff is better than most.

36. "The Hitch-Hiker" (Season 1, Episode 16)

Writers: Rod Serling, based on radio play by Lucille FletcherDirector: Alvin Ganzer"The Hitch-Hiker" holds up. Nan's isolation and growing paranoia on her solo road trip is maddening, but it's not just the creepy hitchhiker that works — her sheer loneliness, plus the drudgery of being on the road for hours on hours, make for a tension you'd expect from a Hitchcock movie. And it doesn't hurt that the twist is genuinely heartbreaking.
CBS / Via realityisthetwilightzone.blogspot.com

Writers: Rod Serling, based on radio play by Lucille Fletcher

Director: Alvin Ganzer

"The Hitch-Hiker" holds up. Nan's isolation and growing paranoia on her solo road trip is maddening, but it's not just the creepy hitchhiker that works — her sheer loneliness, plus the drudgery of being on the road for hours on hours, make for a tension you'd expect from a Hitchcock movie. And it doesn't hurt that the twist is genuinely heartbreaking.

35. "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" (Season 5, Episode 3)

Writer(s): Richard MathesonDirector: Richard DonnerYes, the episode is about the terror of looking out an airplane window and seeing a gremlin, but underneath that is discomfort and fear surrounding mental illness, the necessity of justifying your mind after experiencing an "episode." There are levels to this one.
CBS / Via nicholaskaufmann.com

Writer(s): Richard Matheson

Director: Richard Donner

Yes, the episode is about the terror of looking out an airplane window and seeing a gremlin, but underneath that is discomfort and fear surrounding mental illness, the necessity of justifying your mind after experiencing an "episode." There are levels to this one.

34. "Uncle Simon" (Season 5, Episode 8)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Don Siegel"Uncle Simon" is so underrated and insane. A nasty, sadistic old grump dies, but stipulates in his will that his niece — whom he's nagged for years and who is his only heir — must live with a robot that acts and speaks EXACTLY LIKE HIM. What an unbelievably dick move! It's actually impressive!
CBS / Via badassdigest.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Don Siegel

"Uncle Simon" is so underrated and insane. A nasty, sadistic old grump dies, but stipulates in his will that his niece — whom he's nagged for years and who is his only heir — must live with a robot that acts and speaks EXACTLY LIKE HIM. What an unbelievably dick move! It's actually impressive!

33. "The Big Tall Wish" (Season 1, Episode 27)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Ron Winston"Big Tall Wish" is painful and optimistic, about a poor young boy who has the power to wish anything he desires into reality, and his attempts to use that power to make the world a better place. It's undoubtedly maudlin, but there's substance underneath all that sentimentality that legitimizes it.
CBS / Via berfrois.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Ron Winston

"Big Tall Wish" is painful and optimistic, about a poor young boy who has the power to wish anything he desires into reality, and his attempts to use that power to make the world a better place. It's undoubtedly maudlin, but there's substance underneath all that sentimentality that legitimizes it.

32. "A Piano in the House" (Season 3, Episode 22)

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.Director: David GreeneWhat happens when a sadist buys a piano that lulls anyone in its vicinity into a truth- and secret-spilling spell? A lot of really depressing and embarrassing confessions, firstly. But after that, at least in the karmically balanced Twilight Zone universe, the sadist gets a taste of his own medicine, and his forced humility is so, so sweet.
CBS / Via scoreexperience.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Earl Hamner, Jr.

Director: David Greene

What happens when a sadist buys a piano that lulls anyone in its vicinity into a truth- and secret-spilling spell? A lot of really depressing and embarrassing confessions, firstly. But after that, at least in the karmically balanced Twilight Zone universe, the sadist gets a taste of his own medicine, and his forced humility is so, so sweet.

31. "Mr. Bevis" (Season 1, Episode 33)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: William AsherMr. Bevis is one of the very best Twilight Zone underdog heroes — heartwarming, kind, harmlessly and delightfully weird — which is why it's so rewarding when he rejects his guardian angel's "assistance" (i.e., his new sports car, sophisticated clothing, serious demeanor) and goes back to his beloved, albeit less traditionally successful, life.
CBS / Via rockstarr.tistory.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: William Asher

Mr. Bevis is one of the very best Twilight Zone underdog heroes — heartwarming, kind, harmlessly and delightfully weird — which is why it's so rewarding when he rejects his guardian angel's "assistance" (i.e., his new sports car, sophisticated clothing, serious demeanor) and goes back to his beloved, albeit less traditionally successful, life.

30. "And When the Sky Was Opened" (Season 1, Episode 11)

Writers: Rod Serling, Richard MathesonDirector: Douglas HeyesThree astronauts on a test flight disappear from radar for three hours, and shortly after landing are wiped out from existence, one by one. This is scary enough! On top of that, though, each astronaut knows it's about to happen to him, but no one believes him. When the final astronaut figures out what's going on, and realizes he's next? Unnerving.
CBS

Writers: Rod Serling, Richard Matheson

Director: Douglas Heyes

Three astronauts on a test flight disappear from radar for three hours, and shortly after landing are wiped out from existence, one by one. This is scary enough! On top of that, though, each astronaut knows it's about to happen to him, but no one believes him. When the final astronaut figures out what's going on, and realizes he's next? Unnerving.

29. "Caesar and Me" (Season 5, Episode 28)

Writer(s): Adele T. StrassfieldDirector: Robert Butler"The Dummy" gets all the credit for being a terrifying episode about an evil ventriloquist's dummy (and it is, absolutely) but "Caesar and Me" is really fucking scary too! Sure, he doesn't kill his owner, but he does convince him to become a criminal, and then moves on to prey on the bratty young girl who turned them in. Actually, the little girl is almost as much of a monster as Caesar.
CBS / Via monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com

Writer(s): Adele T. Strassfield

Director: Robert Butler

"The Dummy" gets all the credit for being a terrifying episode about an evil ventriloquist's dummy (and it is, absolutely) but "Caesar and Me" is really fucking scary too! Sure, he doesn't kill his owner, but he does convince him to become a criminal, and then moves on to prey on the bratty young girl who turned them in. Actually, the little girl is almost as much of a monster as Caesar.

28. "The Rip Van Winkle Caper" (Season 2, Episode 24)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Jus AddissFour thieves steal $1 million worth of gold and then try to get away with it by putting themselves to sleep in chambers for a hundred years. It's the kind of Twilight Zone sci-fi that just kills: bone-chilling (just try to conceive of going under for a century), imaginative (the 1960s version of 2061's cars!), and ironic (NO GOLD IN THE FUTURE, BUDDIES).
CBS / Via twilightzonewor.fr.yuku.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Jus Addiss

Four thieves steal $1 million worth of gold and then try to get away with it by putting themselves to sleep in chambers for a hundred years. It's the kind of Twilight Zone sci-fi that just kills: bone-chilling (just try to conceive of going under for a century), imaginative (the 1960s version of 2061's cars!), and ironic (NO GOLD IN THE FUTURE, BUDDIES).

27. "On Thursday We Leave for Home" (Season 4, Episode 16)

Writer(s): Ron SerlingDirector: Buzz Kulik"On Thursday We Leave for Home" is a straightforward story of a leader's fall from grace. But Capt. Benteel is hardly the villainous or power-hungry caricature of a dictator we usually get in The Twilight Zone. Every step of the way — from his early scenes as a compassionate ruler, to his transition into a more commandeering role, to his humiliation when a rescue mission (and new leader) arrive, and ultimately, to his refusal to abandon his post — is devastating.
CBS

Writer(s): Ron Serling

Director: Buzz Kulik

"On Thursday We Leave for Home" is a straightforward story of a leader's fall from grace. But Capt. Benteel is hardly the villainous or power-hungry caricature of a dictator we usually get in The Twilight Zone. Every step of the way — from his early scenes as a compassionate ruler, to his transition into a more commandeering role, to his humiliation when a rescue mission (and new leader) arrive, and ultimately, to his refusal to abandon his post — is devastating.

26. "The Invaders" (Season 2, Episode 15)

Writer(s): Richard MathesonDirector: Douglas HeyesThis episode gets credit for straying from the show's usual format, and its lack of dialogue is successful in invoking loneliness and fear — and the twist (the aliens aren't who you think!) happens early enough in the series to still be a twist. Plus, the little tiny spacesuit is iconic!
CBS / Via gameinformer.com

Writer(s): Richard Matheson

Director: Douglas Heyes

This episode gets credit for straying from the show's usual format, and its lack of dialogue is successful in invoking loneliness and fear — and the twist (the aliens aren't who you think!) happens early enough in the series to still be a twist. Plus, the little tiny spacesuit is iconic!

25. "Nick of Time" (Season 2, Episode 7)

Writer(s): Richard Matheson, Rod SerlingDirector: Richard L. BareWhile waiting for their car to be repaired, a young couple fall under the spell of a diner fortune-telling machine. As the husband gets more and more invested in the responses from what is essentially a magic eight ball, you're pulled equally toward a suspicion that it might actually see the future, and the conviction that it's a goddamn toy that the couple should just leave behind them. So when they do, it's a great relief.
CBS / Via lgbterror.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Richard Matheson, Rod Serling

Director: Richard L. Bare

While waiting for their car to be repaired, a young couple fall under the spell of a diner fortune-telling machine. As the husband gets more and more invested in the responses from what is essentially a magic eight ball, you're pulled equally toward a suspicion that it might actually see the future, and the conviction that it's a goddamn toy that the couple should just leave behind them. So when they do, it's a great relief.

24. "The Last Flight" (Season 1, Episode 18)

Writer(s): Richard MathesonDirector: William F. ClaxtonOne could argue that the one theme that The Twilight Zone consistently does best is time travel. And "The Last Flight" is like the Platonic time travel tale: from the weird mist the WWI pilot flies through before landing in the future, to the necessary bewilderment of all involved parties, to the whole phenomenon's role as a (reversible) tool in nudging the pilot toward his cosmic destiny. Just perfect.
CBS / Via blip.tv

Writer(s): Richard Matheson

Director: William F. Claxton

One could argue that the one theme that The Twilight Zone consistently does best is time travel. And "The Last Flight" is like the Platonic time travel tale: from the weird mist the WWI pilot flies through before landing in the future, to the necessary bewilderment of all involved parties, to the whole phenomenon's role as a (reversible) tool in nudging the pilot toward his cosmic destiny. Just perfect.

23. "The Lateness of the Hour" (Season 2, Episode 8)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Jack SmightFinding out you're a robot might be scarier than finding out you're a mannequin, but this episode is an understated kind of terrifying, and colored by an ever-familiar technophobia. There's a disturbing idealization of living like "normal people" — i.e., living without robot maids, like good salt-of-the-earth folks — and, as always, a healthy obsession with the idea of what makes a human human. (Hint: Implanted memories are probably not enough.)
CBS / Via netflix.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Jack Smight

Finding out you're a robot might be scarier than finding out you're a mannequin, but this episode is an understated kind of terrifying, and colored by an ever-familiar technophobia. There's a disturbing idealization of living like "normal people" — i.e., living without robot maids, like good salt-of-the-earth folks — and, as always, a healthy obsession with the idea of what makes a human human. (Hint: Implanted memories are probably not enough.)

22. "Elegy" (Season 1, Episode 20)

Writer(s): Charles BeaumontDirector: Douglas HeyesIn the future, rich people can send their dead bodies to a utopia world in space where they're propped up in a scene of their life's greatest wish, and when three astronauts happen upon it, it is ghastly. It's also a little confusing? (Was it somebody's "lifelong dream" to be at a mayorial election party?) But the music is great, the astronaut suits are fantastic, and the twist that they can't leave is predictable but effective.
CBS / Via rockstarr.tistory.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: Douglas Heyes

In the future, rich people can send their dead bodies to a utopia world in space where they're propped up in a scene of their life's greatest wish, and when three astronauts happen upon it, it is ghastly. It's also a little confusing? (Was it somebody's "lifelong dream" to be at a mayorial election party?) But the music is great, the astronaut suits are fantastic, and the twist that they can't leave is predictable but effective.

21. "The Midnight Sun" (Season 3, Episode 10)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Anton LeaderRepetition is inevitable in a series that comprises 156 episodes, but "The Midnight Sun" truly stands alone. It is just so weird! And horrifying! And great! When the sweat drips from Norma and Mrs. Bronson, you can really feel the maddening and suffocating heat, and when the twist is revealed — the earth is actually moving away from the sun, not toward it, and feverish Norma is only hallucinating the heat — we realize the subjectivity of our fears.
CBS / Via s275.photobucket.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Anton Leader

Repetition is inevitable in a series that comprises 156 episodes, but "The Midnight Sun" truly stands alone. It is just so weird! And horrifying! And great! When the sweat drips from Norma and Mrs. Bronson, you can really feel the maddening and suffocating heat, and when the twist is revealed — the earth is actually moving away from the sun, not toward it, and feverish Norma is only hallucinating the heat — we realize the subjectivity of our fears.

20. "Nightmare as a Child" (Season 1, Episode 29)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Alvin GanzerAnything involving a suspiciously precocious child is inherently scary, and it's especially so when that child shows up at a woman's apartment, knows the details of her entire life, and sings weird songs only the woman can hear. The horror transitions into heartbreak, though, when the child is revealed to be some kind of coping mechanism to help deal with a domestic violence tragedy from the past. It's heavy, but not belabored.
CBS / Via youtube.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Alvin Ganzer

Anything involving a suspiciously precocious child is inherently scary, and it's especially so when that child shows up at a woman's apartment, knows the details of her entire life, and sings weird songs only the woman can hear. The horror transitions into heartbreak, though, when the child is revealed to be some kind of coping mechanism to help deal with a domestic violence tragedy from the past. It's heavy, but not belabored.

19. "Twenty-Two" (Season 2, Episode 17)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a story by Bennett CerfDirector: Jack SmightMorgues are scary. The monotony of inescapable, recurring dreams is scary. Premonitions of your own death are definitely scary, and no less so when those premonitions actually end of saving your life.
CBS / Via horrorfilms101.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a story by Bennett Cerf

Director: Jack Smight

Morgues are scary. The monotony of inescapable, recurring dreams is scary. Premonitions of your own death are definitely scary, and no less so when those premonitions actually end of saving your life.

18. "Nothing in the Dark" (Season 3, Episode 16)

Writer(s): George Clayton JohnsonDirector: Lamont Johnson"Nothing in the Dark" takes a pretty common Twilight Zone theme — you can't elude or outsmart death, for all of your planning and superstitions — and closes it on a surprisingly poignant note. Robert Redford's final speech on death's coming as a whisper and not an explosion is the stuff of poetry! (Also, helloooooo, Robert Redford 😉 😘 )
CBS / Via wendylovesjesus.wordpress.com

Writer(s): George Clayton Johnson

Director: Lamont Johnson

"Nothing in the Dark" takes a pretty common Twilight Zone theme — you can't elude or outsmart death, for all of your planning and superstitions — and closes it on a surprisingly poignant note. Robert Redford's final speech on death's coming as a whisper and not an explosion is the stuff of poetry! (Also, helloooooo, Robert Redford 😉 😘 )

17. "Five Characters in Search of an Exit" (Season 3, Episode 14)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a short story by Marvin PetalDirector: Lamont JohnsonThis is what would happen if The Twilight Zone met Toy Story — a tale of existential dread, conscious dolls who don't know where they are or how they got there, and whose free will is just an illusion. Uh, SOUND FAMILIAR?
CBS / Via ign.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a short story by Marvin Petal

Director: Lamont Johnson

This is what would happen if The Twilight Zone met Toy Story — a tale of existential dread, conscious dolls who don't know where they are or how they got there, and whose free will is just an illusion. Uh, SOUND FAMILIAR?

16. "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" (Season 5, Episode 17)

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont, John TomerlinDirector: Abner Biberman"Number 12" deserves placement among the best of dystopian future sci-fi, wherein society has instituted a mandatory homogenizing "transformation" plastic surgery because men were getting reeeeeally mad about physical unattractiveness. Yikes! And when the one objector is basically lobotomized so that she gets, and likes, the result? *chills*
CBS / Via blogs.ccsd.edu

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont, John Tomerlin

Director: Abner Biberman

"Number 12" deserves placement among the best of dystopian future sci-fi, wherein society has instituted a mandatory homogenizing "transformation" plastic surgery because men were getting reeeeeally mad about physical unattractiveness. Yikes! And when the one objector is basically lobotomized so that she gets, and likes, the result? *chills*

15. "The Shelter" (Season 3, Episode 3)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Lamont JohnsonThough it doesn't pop up as frequently as "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," "The Shelter" is a more alarming example of paranoia and mob mentality. When the suburban families storm the one fallout shelter in the neighborhood — each certain of their right to be there, unconcerned with the possibility of ruining it for everyone — the heightened (and violent) sense of entitlement makes all of that panic even more insidious.
CBS / Via beattitudez.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Lamont Johnson

Though it doesn't pop up as frequently as "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," "The Shelter" is a more alarming example of paranoia and mob mentality. When the suburban families storm the one fallout shelter in the neighborhood — each certain of their right to be there, unconcerned with the possibility of ruining it for everyone — the heightened (and violent) sense of entitlement makes all of that panic even more insidious.

14. "Where Is Everybody?" (Season 1, Episode 1)

The series started strong with a trifecta of psychological nightmares — isolation, amnesia, and hallucination — in an episode that follows a man who seems to be the last living person in the world. The big reveal — he's actually hallucinating in an isolation chamber in preparation for space travel — sets the tone for the series as a whole. What happens when human beings are pushed to their limits?
CBS

The series started strong with a trifecta of psychological nightmares — isolation, amnesia, and hallucination — in an episode that follows a man who seems to be the last living person in the world. The big reveal — he's actually hallucinating in an isolation chamber in preparation for space travel — sets the tone for the series as a whole. What happens when human beings are pushed to their limits?

13. "The Masks" (Season 5, Episode 25)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Ida LupinoA wealthy, dying old man invites his family, each despicable in their own way, for one final act of revenge before he dies. It's a straightforward and satisfying morality play — more concerned with its storytelling than its clever tricks, ironies, or posturing — and the makeup used to show the family's transformed faces is grotesque and exquisite.
CBS / Via scifinow.co.uk

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Ida Lupino

A wealthy, dying old man invites his family, each despicable in their own way, for one final act of revenge before he dies. It's a straightforward and satisfying morality play — more concerned with its storytelling than its clever tricks, ironies, or posturing — and the makeup used to show the family's transformed faces is grotesque and exquisite.

12. "Little Girl Lost" (Season 3, Episode 26)

Writer(s): Richard MathesonDirector: Paul Stewart"Little Girl Lost" introduces unthinkable horror into an environment built on an idea of safety — broadly, suburbia; specifically, a young girl's bedroom — when a little girl accidentally slips through a portal under her bed into a different dimension. It plays on our fear of the unknowable, and exploits how little really do know, while making it at least seem plausible through exposition from a local physicist.
CBS / Via groggybot.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Richard Matheson

Director: Paul Stewart

"Little Girl Lost" introduces unthinkable horror into an environment built on an idea of safety — broadly, suburbia; specifically, a young girl's bedroom — when a little girl accidentally slips through a portal under her bed into a different dimension. It plays on our fear of the unknowable, and exploits how little really do know, while making it at least seem plausible through exposition from a local physicist.

11. "A Penny for Your Thoughts" (Season 2, Episode 16)

Writer(s): George Clayton JohnsonDirector: James SheldonDiffident and lovable bank clerk Hector Poole flips a quarter on its side when he pays for the morning paper, and it gives him telepathic powers. The power is, of course, a curse, and cause of hilarious shenanigans that evolve into something more detrimental to his life and career. All in all, though, it's a lighthearted episode, with a skillful and charming performance by Dick York, whose Poole ultimately lands on his feet and special powerless. The only drawback: There's no way people would think in such discrete, lucid thoughts.
CBS / Via nerdhistory101.blogspot.com

Writer(s): George Clayton Johnson

Director: James Sheldon

Diffident and lovable bank clerk Hector Poole flips a quarter on its side when he pays for the morning paper, and it gives him telepathic powers. The power is, of course, a curse, and cause of hilarious shenanigans that evolve into something more detrimental to his life and career. All in all, though, it's a lighthearted episode, with a skillful and charming performance by Dick York, whose Poole ultimately lands on his feet and special powerless. The only drawback: There's no way people would think in such discrete, lucid thoughts.

10. "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" (Season 1, Episode 22)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Ron WinstonYou can feel the tension mounting as "Monsters" progresses, watching a suburban neighborhood — meant to be the apotheosis of civilization — descend into paranoia, dangerous distrust, and thoughtless aggression. "The Shelter" might feel more plausible, but that's not necessarily what we're after. Plus, the final revelation that the whole episode is orchestrated by some aliens puts the meaning of our entire existence into question.
CBS / Via patrickvalentinomusic.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Ron Winston

You can feel the tension mounting as "Monsters" progresses, watching a suburban neighborhood — meant to be the apotheosis of civilization — descend into paranoia, dangerous distrust, and thoughtless aggression. "The Shelter" might feel more plausible, but that's not necessarily what we're after. Plus, the final revelation that the whole episode is orchestrated by some aliens puts the meaning of our entire existence into question.

9. "Time Enough at Last" (Season 1, Episode 8)

Writers: Rod Serling, Lyn VenableDirector: John Brahm"Time Enough at Last" follows the nebbishy Henry Bemis, whose only wish (to have some peace and quiet to read his books) is granted in the wake of a nuclear war, and then just as quickly taken away when he breaks his glasses. The episode can act as a litmus test for viewers: You either see it as a goofy joke at a nerd's expense, or as the series' cruelest, unjustifiable irony (and if it's the former: WHERE IS YOUR HEART?). This is what makes it great and almost unbearable.
CBS

Writers: Rod Serling, Lyn Venable

Director: John Brahm

"Time Enough at Last" follows the nebbishy Henry Bemis, whose only wish (to have some peace and quiet to read his books) is granted in the wake of a nuclear war, and then just as quickly taken away when he breaks his glasses. The episode can act as a litmus test for viewers: You either see it as a goofy joke at a nerd's expense, or as the series' cruelest, unjustifiable irony (and if it's the former: WHERE IS YOUR HEART?). This is what makes it great and almost unbearable.

8. "Living Doll" (Season 5, Episode 6)

CBS / Via im1004.tumblr.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont

Director: Richard C. Sarafian

What's great about "Living Doll" is that you're rooting for what would, in any other instance, be the source of fear. Talky Tina is the terrifying doll who sporadically talks to (and threatens, and eventually kills) her owner's abusive stepfather, but the real villain is Erich, who belittles both his wife and stepdaughter until his grisly death. It's impossible to watch his losing battle against a girl's toy and not feel at least a little pleased.

7. "The After Hours" (Season 1, Episode 34)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Douglas HeyesImagine finding out that the people with whom you'd, just moments before, been interacting were actually mannequins? And then, after growing paranoid, wondering if you're crazy, basically going through the ringer, finding out YOU ARE ALSO A MANNEQUIN? It's equal parts spooky and distressing.
CBS / Via ambiguities.wordpress.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Douglas Heyes

Imagine finding out that the people with whom you'd, just moments before, been interacting were actually mannequins? And then, after growing paranoid, wondering if you're crazy, basically going through the ringer, finding out YOU ARE ALSO A MANNEQUIN? It's equal parts spooky and distressing.

6. "Long Distance Call" (Season 2, Episode 22)

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont, Bill IdelsonDirector: James SheldonYoung Bill Mumy shows up twice in the top 10 (kid could be creepy as hell!) but in this performance, he's really tugging at the heartstrings. As little Billy, who keeps in touch with his late grandmother through a toy phone she gave him, he (and the episode as a whole) plays on a fear of death, but also a fear of what happens when you kind of hack death. Wouldn't it be great to have a tool that would allow you to communicate with your lost loved ones? But then again, what if they were no longer recognizable as the people you loved?
CBS / Via veehd.com

Writer(s): Charles Beaumont, Bill Idelson

Director: James Sheldon

Young Bill Mumy shows up twice in the top 10 (kid could be creepy as hell!) but in this performance, he's really tugging at the heartstrings. As little Billy, who keeps in touch with his late grandmother through a toy phone she gave him, he (and the episode as a whole) plays on a fear of death, but also a fear of what happens when you kind of hack death. Wouldn't it be great to have a tool that would allow you to communicate with your lost loved ones? But then again, what if they were no longer recognizable as the people you loved?

5. "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" (Season 2, Episode 28)

CBS / Via wifflegif.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Montgomery Pittman

"Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" has all the elements of quintessential whodunit: a dark, snowy night; a diverse cast of offbeat characters cooped up in one ultra-normal environment; a hint of danger; growing paranoia; mysterious, possibly paranormal, sounds; and misleading clues at every turn. And a bonus alien reveal! It's an episode that gets better every time you watch.

4. "To Serve Man" (Season 3, Episode 24)

CBS / Via tigerdroppings.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a story by Damon Knight

Director: Richard L. Bare

A race of 9-foot aliens lands on Earth vowing that they're here to serve humanity, and, toward that end, abolish hunger, nuclear weapons, energy deficits. Of course, as we all know now, what they're really doing is breeding humans like cattle to bring back with them to eat. "To Serve Man" has the best, most horrifying twist in the entire series, without question — those three words can still send a chill down your spine — but it doesn't have much of a story beyond that. The question is: With a shock that great, does it matter?

3. "Eye of the Beholder" (Season 2, Episode 6)

Writer(s): Rod SerlingDirector: Douglas HeyesSo much of this episode relies on the gut-punch of its twist, so it's unfortunate to realize almost anyone watching this episode now goes in knowing exactly what it's famous for. Still, we can appreciate what a surprise it was for the audience at the time, and, more importantly, as the impact it continues to have beyond shock factor. It's a well-considered and effective elaboration an age-old mantra ("Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," from which the title is derived) and a commentary on universal narcissism.
CBS / Via andthatsthewayitwasinamericanhistory.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling

Director: Douglas Heyes

So much of this episode relies on the gut-punch of its twist, so it's unfortunate to realize almost anyone watching this episode now goes in knowing exactly what it's famous for. Still, we can appreciate what a surprise it was for the audience at the time, and, more importantly, as the impact it continues to have beyond shock factor. It's a well-considered and effective elaboration an age-old mantra ("Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," from which the title is derived) and a commentary on universal narcissism.

2. "The Dummy" (Season 3, Episode 33)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, Lee PolkDirector: Abner BibermanWho among The Twilight Zone audiences isn't plagued to this day by nightmares of the living dummy, sitting in the shadows, slowly turning his monstrous head, peering at you with his devil eyes? The story is scary, sure — a ventriloquist suspects his dummy is out to get him and it turns out he's right — but the final scene alone, in which a face swap reveals the ventriloquist is now the dummy, is enough to put this episode among the best.
CBS / Via joblo.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, Lee Polk

Director: Abner Biberman

Who among The Twilight Zone audiences isn't plagued to this day by nightmares of the living dummy, sitting in the shadows, slowly turning his monstrous head, peering at you with his devil eyes? The story is scary, sure — a ventriloquist suspects his dummy is out to get him and it turns out he's right — but the final scene alone, in which a face swap reveals the ventriloquist is now the dummy, is enough to put this episode among the best.

1. "It's a Good Life" (Season 3, Episode 8)

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a short story by Jerome BixbyDirector: James SheldonIn the sleepy town of Peaksville, Ohio, a community lives by the whims of an implacable, omnipotent monster, and that monster is a 6-year-old angel-faced little boy. What if your very existence was in the hands of a little brat? The concept (and execution) is acutely disturbing.
CBS / Via reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.com

Writer(s): Rod Serling, based on a short story by Jerome Bixby

Director: James Sheldon

In the sleepy town of Peaksville, Ohio, a community lives by the whims of an implacable, omnipotent monster, and that monster is a 6-year-old angel-faced little boy. What if your very existence was in the hands of a little brat? The concept (and execution) is acutely disturbing.

Editor's Note

This post has been updated to meet standards of attribution.