The Twilight Zone premiered on October 2, 1959. The show featured a collection of moral fables full of twists and turns.
Its unique tone and style inspired plenty of other shows, including Black Mirror and American Horror Story.
Its episodes also had a major impact on audiences, whether they made them laugh, cry, scream, or do all three at once. Some of the stories were more effective than others, but all of them became an important part of TV history.
Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more on this classic anthology series. Keep watching to learn about The Twilight Zone episodes that left a deep mark on viewers.
Where Is Everybody?
This was the one that started it all. It follows a man played by Earl Holliman who wakes up in an empty town. There are no other people there, and he tries to find out where they all went. It ends with a twist that’s not as satisfying as the ones to come but still worth experiencing.
The Purple Testament
This episode focuses on WWII Lieutenant William Fitzgerald, played by William Reynolds. He begins to see a white light emanating from soldiers who are about to die.
The final twist isn’t hard to guess, but the theme comes through strongly. It reminds viewers that every soldier realizes that at least some of their comrades won’t return alive and how heavy a burden that is to bear.
The Dummy and Living Doll
The Dummy focuses on a ventriloquist named Jerry Etherson, played by Cliff Robertson. He replaces his dummy, voiced by George Murdock, who turns violent when he gets replaced. The final moments are the most effective part.
Living Doll introduced the world to Talky Tina. A stepfather, played by Telly Savalas, buys her for his daughter but then begins to realize the toy has it out for him.
The After Hours
This episode uses mannequins to bring the scares instead of dolls or dummies. It tells the tale of Marsha Whit, played by Anne Francis. She wants to buy a golden thimble for her mother but enters a mysterious shop and takes an elevator to an abandoned floor. It’s one of the show’s most terrifying episodes and even manages to pull off genuine jump scares.
Night Call and Long Distance Call
Both of these episodes involve mysterious phone calls. The way they’re handled is different, but they also have a lot in common. They’re terrifying enough to leave the viewer afraid to pick up the next call they receive.
Night Call tells the story of an elderly widow. She keeps getting mysterious calls full of static and moaning. The finale seems heartwarming until the very last second.
Long Distance Call uses a similar premise but gets even more intense. It tells of a little boy, played by Bill Mummy, and his dead grandmother, played by Lili Darvas. She begins to call him on a toy phone. She begs him to commit suicide so they can be together again.
What’s In the Box?
This episode follows the classic formula of Twilight Zone characters suffering tragedy because they tried too hard to avoid it. It tells of a man played by William Demarest who can see the future on his TV and becomes paranoid. The title may have even inspired the most famous line in the hit 1995 crime drama Se7en.
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
This episode came at a time when The Twilight Zone was on its last legs. Rod Sterling decided that, instead of making a new episode, he’d buy a mostly silent French film and use it instead.
Roger Jacquet plays a Civil War prisoner who’s about to be hung. The rope breaks and he manages to run away to his wife; at least, that’s what he believes.
Little Girl Lost
This episode follows a mother and father, played by Robert Sampson and Sarah Marshal, who are looking for their daughter Tina, played by Tracy Stratford. They can hear her cry for help but can’t see her because she’s trapped in a ghostly dimension.
The script for the episode was written by Richard Matheson, the man who worked on Steven Spielberg’s first feature film, Duel. It also served as his inspiration for the 1982 ghost story film Poltergeist.
Perchance to Dream
This is another Twilight Zone episode that inspired a horror staple; namely, Nightmare on Elm Street. It follows Edward Hall, played by Richard Conte. He has a weak heart and can’t sleep because he always has nightmares about a woman trying to scare him to death at a carnival.
The Monsters are Due on Maple Street
This episode inspired Steven King’s The Mist. It tells the story of a town that suffers a major power outage. A young boy suggests that aliens were behind it.
The entire town turns on each other because they think that their neighbors are extraterrestrials in disguise. It’s a fitting allegory for the power of fear and hate with a great final twist.
Mr. Garrity and the Graves
This is another episode that basically puts an entire town on trial. Mr. Garrity, played by John Dehner, promises to resurrect their dead. It’s unclear whether they want him to or whether the reason for their fear is because they played a part in the deaths. The ending is ironic and well-written, except for the last few seconds.
Five Characters in Search of an Exit
The Twilight Zone has also inspired music, and this one’s known for inspiring Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower. It follows a ballerina, a bagpiper, an army major, a clown, and a hobo. They desperately try to escape from a metal cylinder hanging high above the ground. You’ll feel for them and fear for their lives the entire time.
Number 12 Looks Just Like You
This is one of several Twilight Zone episodes that imagines a dystopian future. In this one, everyone must undergo “The Transformation” at the age of 19 to make their bodies match a selection of beautiful models. One woman, played by Collin Wilcox, attempts to avoid the process until the episode’s unsettling ending.
This episode focuses on Millicent Barnes who finds a woman who looks just like her going about her daily routine. The sociopathic copy manages to blend in and keeps getting closer to taking over her identity. It all takes place at a bus stop, but the tension remains high the entire time.
To Serve Man
This Twilight Zone episode is so well-known that it’s been the subject of plenty of parodies, including an episode of The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror.
It begins with a race of aliens who come to Earth and promise to take care of the humans. They invite them to their home planet and leave a book behind called “To Serve Man.” It has a great final twist and a script that’s full of clever wordplay.
This is another Twilight Zone alien story, but it has an entirely different mood and message. The main character is a kind extraterrestrial who lands on earth and promises to bring a gift to all humans. They demonize him and face their own destruction because of it. The finale shows that it’s human nature to be prejudiced against anything new or different, but the alien’s friendship with a young boy proves that there are a few exceptions.
Like and subscribe for more on the most impactful episodes in TV history. Keep watching to learn about more Twilight Zone episodes that left a deep mark on viewers, from touching romances to tense terrors.
This episode follows a woman who can’t seem to shake a man who needs a ride. The final twist comes when he appears and tells her “I believe you’re going my way.” The line is now famous enough to show up over and over again in other media.
Person or Persons Unknown
This is one of the best of many Twilight Zone episodes where the main character enters a world where no one remembers that they ever existed. He tries to find convincing evidence, but it all seems to disappear a few moments later. The emotions get more and more intense until the powerful climax.
One for the Angels
Most Twilight Zone episodes are about misguided or evil characters getting their comeuppance, but this one’s about redemption. Ed Wynn is a former hustler. Death, played by Murray Hamilton, literally comes knocking at his door. It also stands out for being one of the few episodes that tries and succeeds to be comedic and feel-good.
The Lateness of the Hour
The Twilight Zone isn’t afraid to examine the effects of technology, and this is one of the most cerebral episodes that focus on that theme. It follows a woman named Jana who fills her home with robots to tend to her family’s needs but doesn’t trust them. The twist is predictable but impactful.
This is arguably The Twilight Zone’s most affecting examination of Nazi crimes and The Holocaust. It features a former Nazi officer who can’t escape the ghosts of Jews he tortured and killed.
What sets this episode apart from all the others is the fact that it involves only one character and location and has almost no dialogue. It follows a lonely woman who has to fend for her life when her home gets filled with small but deadly creatures. It’s full of tension and has a great final twist.
This episode also uses minimal dialogue and locations but adds romance to the plot. A man and a woman have both survived the apocalypse. They meet each other and try to stay together in an empty world. It’s a stirring story and an examination of the horrors of war.
The Eye of the Beholder
This is one of the most famous and effective Twilight Zone episodes of all time. It tells the story of Janet Tyler, played by Donna Douglas. She undergoes extensive plastic surgery to attempt to look “normal.” Expert cinematography diverts your attention until the final twist gets revealed and the message comes through.
What’s your favorite episode of The Twilight Zone? Let us know in the comments below. Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more on the best anthology shows of all time.