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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.

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

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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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)

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)

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)

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)

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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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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.