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100 best ‘Twilight Zone’ episodes of all time


100 best ‘Twilight Zone’ episodes of all time

Rod Serling’s iconic, critically acclaimed “The Twilight Zone” took on issues of prejudice, war, government, and morality in a time when these issues were rarely—if ever—directly discussed on television, much less in polite conversation. Through blending fantasy, thriller, and science fiction, many of the themes and lessons from the memorable (and prescient) storylines still resonate today.

The continued relevance of “The Twilight Zone,” which originally ran from 1959 to 1964, has inspired several reboots. A film version was produced by Steven Spielberg in 1983, and the show enjoyed two revivals in 1985 and 2002, respectively, before the latest iteration helmed by Jordan Peele along with fellow executive producers Simon Kinberg (“X-Men,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”) and Glen Morgan (“X-Files,” “Final Destination.”).

Still, fans have a sweet spot for the OG 156 episodes that started it all, so Stacker has put together the definitive top 100 “Twilight Zone” episodes list here, based on IMDb fan ratings. Any ties that occurred during the ranking were broken by the volume of user votes (for example, if two episodes had the same rating of 9.2, the one with more votes was ranked above the other episode).

Keep reading to be reminded of old favorites, discover episodes you may have missed, and to see if any of your favorites ranked near the very top.

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#100. Probe 7, Over and Out

– IMDb score: 7.5
– Air date: Nov. 29, 1963
– Season 5, episode 9

A crash-landed astronaut finds out his planet is on the brink of destruction, but luckily a woman from another world has also taken refuge on his new home. His name is Adam, hers is Eve, and together they set off to explore what she calls “Irth.”

Richard Basehart, who played Ishmael in the 1956 film “Moby Dick,” is the astronaut Adam. This was the first episode audiences saw after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination crushed the nation and took over wall-to-wall TV coverage a week earlier.


#99. A Quality of Mercy

– IMDb score: 7.5
– Air date: Dec. 29, 1961
– Season 3, episode 15

An eager lieutenant who has never before seen battle orders his men to attack Japanese soldiers in a cave on the last day of World War II. Just before the attack he is transported back three years in time, and becomes a Japanese lieutenant who receives similar instructions to attack a group of American soldiers in a cave. From the experience, the lieutenant learns of the futility of war.

The title is based on a quote from Shakespeare’s play “The Merchant of Venice.”


#98. Once Upon a Time

– IMDb score: 7.5
– Air date: Dec. 15, 1961
– Season 3, episode 13

A janitor uses his scientist boss’ time helmet to go from 1890 to 1960, expecting life to be better. When he finds out it might actually be worse, he decides to go back. A friend he met in 1960 goes with him, but decides that 1890s life isn’t right for him, either.

Buster Keaton, known best for his iconic silent films with slapstick comedy, plays the janitor.


#97. The Man in the Bottle

– IMDb score: 7.5
– Air date: Oct. 7, 1960
– Season 2, episode 2

A couple that owns an antique shop finds a genie in a bottle who grants the pair four wishes. The man wishes for unlimited power and becomes Hitler in his final moments, similar to other episodes that provide commentary on World War II.

Joseph Ruskin from “Smokin’ Aces” stars in this one.


#96. Nightmare as a Child

– IMDb score: 7.5
– Air date: April 29, 1960
– Season 1, episode 29

In this episode from the first season of the series, a schoolteacher is visited by her childhood self, who eventually helps the adult version remember what happened to her mother. She figures out that her mother’s murderer is trying to kill her, and ends up killing the man instead. It’s just in time, because the man who did it recognizes her on the street.

Series creator and writer Rod Serling reportedly named the teacher after one from his childhood.


#95. Judgment Night

– IMDb score: 7.5
– Air date: Dec. 4, 1959
– Season 1, episode 10

A man feels the effects of his worst transgressions for all of eternity. He is stuck on a re-lived loop as a passenger on a freighter that he, during his life in the German military, sank in World War II. At first, he doesn’t know why he is on the ship, but horror sinks in as he recognizes the history that has already happened.

The Brits drink coffee instead of tea during the show because of the episode’s sponsor.


#94. Escape Clause

– IMDb score: 7.5
– Air date: Nov. 6, 1959
– Season 1, episode 6

A hypochondriac makes a deal with the devil, but the devil gives him an escape option just in case he changes his mind and wants to die. After the man tests out his ability to elude death, his wife dies in an accident. He falsely confesses to murdering her, thinking that he will be able to get out of the electric chair. He is sentenced to life in prison instead.

Two of the actors, Virginia Christine and Dick Wilson, were best known for their roles in TV commercials for coffee and toilet paper, respectively.


#93. Of Late I Think of Cliffordville

– IMDb score: 7.6
– Air date: April 11, 1963
– Season 4, episode 14

An older, wealthy businessman who is bored with his life gives most of his money to the devil in exchange for going back to his youth and living out the process of making it all over again. His second attempt at getting rich doesn’t work out, and he ends up selling what he has to go back to the present, where he becomes a janitor.

Julie Newmar, known for her role as the original “Catwoman” to Adam West’s “Batman” in several films, plays the devil.


#92. You Drive

– IMDb score: 7.6
– Air date: Jan. 3, 1964
– Season 5, episode 14

While distracted by work, Oliver Pope hits a newspaper boy on a bicycle with his car, causing the boy’s death. The man flees the scene, but his car starts behaving strangely. It haunts him until he turns himself in for what he did. In one of the more overt lessons from the series, the episode ends with the narration: “All persons attempting to conceal criminal acts involving their cars are hereby warned: check first to see that underneath that chrome there does not lie a conscience…”

The crazy car featured in the episode is a classic 1956 Ford Fairlane.


#91. Hocus-Pocus and Frisby

– IMDb score: 7.6
– Air date: April 13, 1962
– Season 3, episode 30

A gas-station owner who is known for telling grandiose stories about himself that aren’t true gets abducted by aliens. They believe his lies and that he is a perfect example of the human species for their zoo. He escapes them by playing a harmonica, but his friends don’t believe him when he tells the truth about what happened.

Andy Devine, who voiced Friar Tuck in the Disney film version of “Robin Hood,” plays the liar.


#90. One More Pallbearer

– IMDb score: 7.6
– Air date: Jan. 12, 1962
– Season 3, episode 17

A wealthy man builds a bomb shelter that features a variety of effects in order to trick three people who humiliated him into thinking the world is actually ending, so that they will beg his forgiveness. They refuse to go along with his request, continuing to berate him for past behavior. After they leave, he thinks the world is actually ending, but it turns out he’s lost his mind.

Joseph Wiseman of Dr. No” stars in this episode.



#89. The Fugitive

– IMDb score: 7.6
– Air date: March 9, 1962
– Season 3, episode 25

An alien king disguises himself as an old man and makes friends with a group of children, particularly a girl with a leg brace. When two other aliens come looking for him, the girl tries to help him, but he gets caught. She goes back with him to his planet, where she’ll become his queen once she grows up.

Nancy Kulp of “The Beverly Hillbillies” plays the girl’s aunt.


#88. The Passersby

– IMDb score: 7.6
– Air date: Oct. 6, 1961
– Season 3, episode 4

A woman sits on her porch at the end of the Civil War waiting for her husband to come home. It turns out he’s dead, and so is she, along with everyone else passing by down the road in front of her house. Abraham Lincoln shows up at the end to give the woman a nudge in the right direction.

James Gregory, who was Scotty in the 1980 TV movie “The Comeback Kid,” plays a Confederate soldier in this episode.


#87. The Purple Testament

– IMDb score: 7.6
– Air date: Feb. 12, 1960
– Season 1, episode 19

A World War II soldier can see in the faces of those around him who will die that day. He tries to warn his friend not to go out, but he’s not successful. At the end, he sees the light that signals someone’s doom in his own face.

Dick York of “Bewitched” plays a captain in the episode.


#86. Elegy

– IMDb score: 7.6
– Air date: Feb. 19, 1960
– Season 1, episode 20

This episode, one of “The Twilight Zone”’s most terrifying, predicts that Earth has been destroyed by nuclear war by 1985. Three astronauts land on a place that feels very much like Earth (though it’s thousands of miles away), but find all the people are motionless, frozen in scenes of beauty pageants and mayoral elections. The astronauts meet the caretaker, who tells them it’s a mortuary where people spend forever doing what they’ve always dreamed with the help of “eternifying fluid” to preserve their dead bodies. After he tricks the astronauts into drinking the fluid, the caretaker places them where they said they most wanted to be: on their spaceship, heading home.

Cecil Kellaway from “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” stars in this episode.


#85. In His Image

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: Jan. 3, 1963
– Season 4, episode 1

A man creates a robot that looks just like him, but has only his best qualities. There’s only one problem: a mechanical issue makes the robot occasionally kill people. The robot goes out into the world and builds a life, loving companion and all, and eventually returns to the town of his creator to understand his past. After the two fight, the creator steps into the life of the created in a surprising and creepy classic twist. The story was written by longtime “Twilight Zone” writer Charles Beaumont.

This is the first episode to run a full hour, doubling the show’s timeslot. The longer format revived the series from cancellation after CBS failed to gain a new sponsor (despite three critically-acclaimed seasons).


#84. No Time Like the Past

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: March 7, 1963
Season 4, episode 10

A well-meaning scientist uses a time machine to try to prevent real-life atrocities that happened in the past, like Hiroshima or Hitler. When he learns that he can’t change the past, he decides to find a quiet place to settle down but ends up trying to meddle with fate once more. When he tries to stop a schoolhouse from burning down, he actually ends up causing the fire.

A group of schoolchildren sings the patriotic tune “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean” in this episode.


#83. Queen of the Nile

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: March 6, 1964
– Season 5, episode 23

A reporter visits a movie star for an interview, and through a little investigative journalism, figures out that she’s a lot older than she appears. The age gap is a lot more than the average movie star lie—this woman’s daughter is an old woman living in her house. The reporter learns the secret to the actress’s youth a little too late

This is the last episode credited to the late Charles Beaumont, prior to his untimely illness and death at age 38.


#82. I am the Night – Color Me Black

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: March 27, 1964
– Season 5, episode 26

When a town is about to hang a man for killing a racist bigot in an act of self-defense charged as murder, it becomes perpetually nighttime. The police and media who contributed to the man’s sentencing begin to feel guilty. As he dies, darkness, representing hatred, takes over the world.

Rod Serling reportedly wrote this episode in response to the JFK assassination.


#81. He’s Alive

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: Jan. 24, 1963
– Season 4, episode 4

A young Neo-Nazi whose public speaking skills are failing to deliver followers gets a visit from Hitler. The presumed-dead Nazi leader teaches his young companion how to draw crowds. The young man’s rise to power is cut short when he’s shot and killed by police.

Dennis Hopper plays the young Neo-Nazi.


#80. In Praise of Pip

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: Sept. 27, 1963
– Season 5, episode 1

A bookie father learns that his son, a soldier, is dying in Vietnam. The father spends time with a 10-year-old version of the boy at an amusement park before bargaining with God to take him instead.

Jack Klugman of “The Odd Couple” plays the bookie.


#79. A Kind of a Stopwatch

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: Oct. 18, 1963
– Season 5, episode 4

An annoying man whom acquaintances barely tolerate is given a stopwatch by a stranger at a bar. He learns he can stop time with it, and tries to use the gift to his advantage. When the timepiece breaks, he ends up stuck in a world where everything around him is frozen.

Richard Erdman, who more recently played Leonard on the hit show “Community,” stars in this episode.


#78. Dead Man’s Shoes

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: Jan. 19, 1962
– Season 3, episode 18

A murdered gangster possesses a bum who steals his shoes from his corpse. The bum-as-gangster goes to the dead man’s home, terrifying his girlfriend and then himself when the shoes come off and he doesn’t know where he is. Shoes back on, he tries to avenge his death but ends up murdered again as the bum. Another homeless man takes the shoes.

This is the only episode that appeared in all three “Twilight Zone” series—original and revivals.


#77. A Piano in the House

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: Feb. 16, 1962
– Season 3, episode 22

A theater critic buys his wife a piano for her birthday because she wants to learn to play even though he doesn’t think she’ll be very good. When he gets the instrument home, he discovers that it makes his manservant reveal his inner self. He decides to use the trick at his wife’s birthday party to humiliate the guests, but the piano gets used on him instead.

The episode’s writer, Earl Hamner, Jr., wrote the novel “The Homecoming,” which was adapted into the popular, long-running 1970s and 1980s TV series “The Waltons” and “Falcon Crest.”



#76. Kick the Can

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: Feb. 9, 1962
– Season 3, episode 21

A man in a nursing home finds out that his son can’t take him in. He decides to try to wish himself young, and discovers that if he plays kids’ games, he can actually make it happen. Others at the nursing home don’t believe him until he convinces them to give Kick the Can a try.

The game of Kick the Can is part hide and seek, part capture the flag.


#75. Long Distance Call

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: March 31, 1961
– Season 2, episode 22

When a boy’s grandmother dies right after giving him a toy phone as a present, he is able to communicate with her in the afterlife. She decides she doesn’t want to be dead alone, and tries to get the boy to join her. He attempts to kill himself.

This is Billy Mumy’s first of three appearances during the show’s original run.


#74. A Most Unusual Camera

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: Dec. 16, 1960
– Season 2, episode 10

A group of thieves come across a magical camera that reveals what will happen five minutes into the future. After briefly considering using the tool to help humanity, they head to the racetrack to photograph the winners board before the races to win big on bets. When they’re back at their hotel counting their loot, they mysteriously, or tragically, all fall out of a window.

Adam Williams, who played Valerian in “North by Northwest,” is the third musketeer in this unlucky gang.


#73. Perchance to Dream

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: Nov. 27, 1959
– Season 1, episode 9

A man goes to a psychiatrist’s office because he hasn’t slept in days. He believes that if he falls asleep, a cat woman will kill him. He realizes the psychiatrist’s receptionist is the woman and jumps out the window to his death.

This is the first episode in the series that was not written by Rod Serling.


#72. One for the Angels

– IMDb score: 7.7
– Air date: Oct. 9, 1959
– Season 1, episode 2

A “pitch man,” someone who hawks goods on street corners, meets Death, who tells him that it will be his time to go at midnight. The salesman begs Death for more time to make the greatest pitch of his life. When a little girl in his building ends up about to be taken in his place, the man pitches his life for hers.

Ed Wynn, who plays the street vendor, was also famous for being a clown.


#71. Mr. Garrity and the Graves

– IMDb score: 7.8
– Air date: May 8, 1964
– Season 5, episode 32

A con man convinces people in a small Old West town that he can bring their loved ones back from the dead. After he reminds them of all the things they didn’t like about their loved ones, they pay him not to go through with it. But then, after he leaves, the dead rise all on their own.

The script is based on a story by Mike Korologos.



#70. The Jeopardy Room

– IMDb score: 7.8
– Air date: April 17, 1964
– Season 5, episode 29

This episode focuses on a Russian defector fleeing his homeland to ask for asylum in the U.S. Before he gets there, one of the men who tortured him in prison catches up with him and places him in a room with a bomb. The trapped man has three hours to figure out how to disarm it before it explodes. When he figures out where the device is located, he runs out the door and finds a way to blow up his captors.

Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau plays the man running for his life.


#69. The Long Morrow

– IMDb score: 7.8
– Air date: Jan. 10, 1964
– Season 5, episode 15

An astronaut who is about to spend 40 years in hypersleep on a space mission meets the love of his life. Realizing that, if he spends the trip in suspended animation, it won’t age him, he decides to compete the adventure unplugged so that when he returns he and his love will still be similar ages. Meanwhile, his lady finds a way to put herself in suspended animation.  When he finally gets back, he’s an old man and she’s still young.

An episode from “The Gilmore Girls” is named after this one.


#68. The Grave

– IMDb score: 7.8
– Air date: Oct. 27, 1961
– Season 3, episode 7

An Old West lawman tracking an outlaw gets to a small town, where he finds out that others have already killed the bandit. He discovers that the dead man put a curse on those who killed him, but he decides to go to the grave at night anyway and plunges a knife into the dirt. When he does, his cloak gets caught in the knife, and he freaks out, believing the outlaw’s ghost is after him. Maybe the ghost is.

Lee Marvin, who played Fardan in the 1966 movie “The Professionals” stars as the lawman.



#67. Back There

– IMDb score: 7.8
– Air date: Jan. 13, 1961
– Season 2, episode 13

A man playing cards at a club has a conversation about whether it’s possible to change history through time travel. When he leaves the club, he gets the chance to try for himself. While he isn’t able to stop the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, he is able to make a side character very rich.

This is the second “Twilight Zone” episode where actor Russell Johnson deals with time travel—a frequent device in the series.



#66. The Parallel

– IMDb score: 7.9
– Air date: March 14, 1963
– Season 4, episode 11

An astronaut orbiting Earth has an accident and ends up in a world where things don’t seem quite right. His wife and daughter aren’t convinced that he’s him, and details keep showing him that he hasn’t really gone home. After realizing that he may be in a parallel universe, he finds a way home.

Steve Forrest plays the astronaut. His brother, actor Dana Andrews, plays the protagonist in the episode that aired directly before this one.


#65. The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross

– IMDb score: 7.9
– Air date: Jan. 17, 1964
– Season 5, episode 16

A man is in love with a woman who does not want him, and he shows a tendency toward violence in the way he tries to pursue her. While hospitalized for a broken hand, he learns he has a power to swap traits with people if they agree to the deal. He tries to use the gift to make himself more appealing to the woman he loves, but that just gets him shot to death in the end.

The script is based on a short story by author and playwright and TV writer Henry Slesar.


#64. Miniature

– IMDb score: 7.9
– Air date: Feb. 21, 1963
– Season 4, episode 8

A man who doesn’t fit into the world around him ends up falling in love with a doll in a dollhouse at a museum. He watches her life in the house: she plays piano, shoos away an unwanted suitor. When he tries to protect the doll from the angry suitor he ends up locked away by a psychiatrist, but is eventually able to reuinte with his love.

Robert Duvall, the iconic actor who played Tom Hagen in “The Godfather,” stars in this episode.



#63. Ring-A-Ding Girl

– IMDb score: 7.9
– Air date: Dec. 27, 1963
– Season 5, episode 13

An actress receives a ring as a gift that tells her she needs to go back to her hometown because something bad is going to happen. The plane she’s flying on crashes where a founder’s picnic was scheduled. She’d managed to divert some of the crowd by saying she would be performing in the high school auditorium, saving many lives with her sacrifice.

The set for the house in this episode was also used in The Twilight Zone’s “Living Doll” (#7 on this list).


#62. The Old Man in the Cave

– IMDb score: 7.9
– Air date: Nov. 8, 1963
– Season 5, episode 7

A post-apocalyptic town survives on the advice from an old man in a cave brought to them through an intermediary. A group of soldiers come to town and raise questions about the man. The townspeople decide to destroy him, and he turns out to be a computer. Without the old man’s advice the people die.

The script is based on a short story by Henry Slesar, who also wrote for “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”


#61. The Trade-Ins

– IMDb score: 7.9
– Air date: April 20, 1962
– Season 3, episode 31

A couple is growing old, and the man has a condition that causes a lot of physical pain. The couple look into a company that would allow them to transfer their consciousnesses to younger replacement bodies, but they can only afford one procedure. The man decides he’d rather stay old with his wife.

The second wife of Joseph Schildkraut, who plays the old man, died while he was filming this episode. He insisted on finishing the show before taking time to mourn.


#60. Person or Persons Unknown

– IMDb score: 7.9
– Air date: March 23, 1962
Season 3, episode 27

A man wakes up after a night of drinking to discover that no one, including his wife and coworkers, knows who he is. A psychiatrist tries to convince him that he is not who he believes that he is. In the end, he wakes up from the nightmare to his wife asleep next to him, but now he doesn’t recognize her.

This is one of the first instances of a TV show featuring a husband and wife sleeping in the same bed together.


#59. The Rip Van Winkle Caper

– IMDb score: 7.9
– Air date: April 21, 1961
– Season 2, episode 24

A group of thieves steal a shipment of gold and then hide in a sealable cave under a mountain. They put themselves in suspended animation for 100 years to give time for those trying to solve the heist to settle down. When they wake up, they find out gold is now worthless.

Simon Oakland, who played Dr. Fred Richman in Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” stars in this episode.


#58. Two

– IMDb score: 7.9
Air date: Sept. 15, 1961
Season 3, episode 1

A man and woman from opposing sides in a war are the only people left in a post-apocalyptic world. They meet and develop a relationship, working through wary moments when instinct pushes them to aim guns at each other. In the end, they change out of their soldier uniforms and begin a new life.

“Bewitched” star Elizabeth Montgomery plays the woman.


#57. A World of Difference

– IMDb score: 7.9
– Air date: March 11, 1960
– Season 1, episode 23

A businessman with a nice lifenice wife, good job, friendly secretaryfinds himself in a movie set for his life. He’s told that he is actually an actor playing the man he thought he was, and he finds that the actor’s life is rather terrible. When he learns the movie is going to be scrapped, he races to the studio to try to reunite with the life he loved before it’s too late.

The trapped man whistles “Coming through the Rye,” as he tries to dial the phone.


#56. I Shot an Arrow into the Air

– IMDb score: 7.9
– Air date: Jan. 15, 1960
– Season 1, episode 15

The first manned spacecraft crashes and four members of the crew survive. Believing themselves to be millions of miles from Earth, they fight over rations, and one man kills the others in the quest for survival. Then, after hours of walking, he finds out they crashed in Nevada.

This is one of only four episodes with mid-show narration.


#55. Death Ship

– IMDb score: 8
– Air date: Feb. 7, 1963
– Season 4, episode 6

Three astronauts are on a mission to determine if increasingly overcrowded Earth could colonize another planet. While exploring their target planet, they find a replica of their ship and themselves crashed on the planet, dead. Two of the astronauts come to terms with the idea that they’re already dead, but the captain refuses to believe it.

Some of the musical score from “Death Ship” was taken from another episode“Back There.”


#54. The Dummy

– IMDb score: 8
– Air date: May 4, 1962
– Season 3, episode 33

A ventriloquist believes that his wooden doll is out to get him. His agent is frustrated and thinks the man needs a psychiatrist. The ventriloquist tries to escape his increasingly scary partner, but in the end, it’s the doll’s turn to control him.

The ventriloquist dummy was later re-used in “Caesar and Me,” an episode from season five.


#53. Twenty Two

– IMDb score: 8
– Air date: Feb. 10, 1961
– Season 2, episode 17

An overworked dancer who has been hospitalized has recurring nightmares about going down to the hospital’s morgue. In the dream, the morgue is in room 22, and the nurse in charge tells her there’s room for one more. After she leaves the hospital, she discovers that the nightmare was actually a premonition for a flight she’s about to get on.

A limited budget during season two meant that six episodes, including “Twenty Two,” were shot with videotape rather than film.


#52. A Nice Place to Visit

– IMDb score: 8
– Air date: April 15, 1960
– Season 1, episode 28

Police shoot an man who is trying to rob a pawn shop. The crook wakes up to a man in white welcoming him to the afterlife, where he is able to have everything that he wantswomen, gambling wins, a luxurious apartment. After some time, the man gets bored with always getting what he wants, and finds out he’s not in heaven after all.

The slot machines used in this episode were also used in season one’s “The Fever.”


#51. Valley of the Shadow

– IMDb score: 8.1
– Air date: Jan. 17, 1963
– Season 4, episode 3

A reporter stumbles on a small town with a big secret: equations that allow them to rearrange matter. The journalist first sees this in action when a little girl disappears his dog with a zapping device. He tries to convince the townspeople that they could solve the world’s problems with their technology, but they don’t think humanity is ready for it. The reporter proves them right.

James Doohan, who played the girl’s father in this episode, is most known for his work on “Star Trek.”


#50. The Little People

– IMDb score: 8.1
Air date: March 30, 1962
Season 3, episode 28

When two astronauts crash on a planet with tiny people, one of them becomes recognized as a god. He decides to stay when the other is ready to leave in their repaired spaceship. Then two aliens bigger than him land on the planet, and he learns his place in the universe’s pecking order.

Some of the props in this episode were used in “Forbidden Planet.”


#49. The Hunt

– IMDb score: 8.1
– Air date: Jan. 26, 1962
– Season 3, episode 19

A man who lives in a backwoods country house with his wife takes his dog racoon hunting. The two fall into a pond and drown. When he gets to a fancy gate on the road to eternity, he finds out he can’t go inside with his dog and decides that he’d rather keep walking than go to heaven without his canine companion. He then realizes that wasn’t the gate to heaven after all.

Earl Hamner Jr., who created “The Waltons,” wrote this episode.


#48. A Game of Pool

– IMDb score: 8.1
– Air date: Oct. 13, 1961
– Season 3, episode 5

A frustrated pool shark curses the name of a dead billiards player who was supposedly better than him. The dead man then shows up for one last game of pool. When the living pool player wins, he finds out that he will be obligated to show up from the afterlife to play people who challenge him.

In an alternate version of the episode’s ending that was filmed decades later, the dead man wins the game.


#47. The Odyssey of Flight 33

– IMDb score: 8.1
– Air date: Feb. 24, 1961
– Season 2, episode 18

A plane catches a mysterious tailwind that tosses them back in time to the age of dinosaurs. After realizing what happened, the pilot tries to find the tailwind again. They end up a few decades earlier than they intended.

Rod Serling reportedly achieved realistic technical pilot-speak thanks to his aviation-reporter brother.


#46. The Night of the Meek

– IMDb score: 8.1
– Air date: Dec. 23, 1960
– Season 2, episode 11

An alcoholic Santa Claus gets fired from his job at a department store. He finds a magical bag out of which he can pull gifts, and goes around town helping people. A police officer and his former boss try to lock him up for what they presume to be stolen goods, but they find out the bag is real. Reindeer and sleigh wait for the new official Santa at the end of the episode.

John Fiedler, who plays the store manager who fires Santa, was also the voice actor for Piglet in many “Winnie the Pooh” movies.


#45. The Last Flight

– IMDb score: 8.1
– Air date: Feb. 5, 1960
– Season 1, episode 18

A pilot flees a World War I dogfight, time travels 42 years into the future, and lands at a U.S. military base in France. He learns that the friend he believed dead when the pilot abandoned him in the battle is on his way to visit the base. He realizes that someone else must have saved his friend that day..

Parts of this episode were filmed at Norton Air Force Base, which is now the San Bernardino International Airport.


#44. Mirror Image

– IMDb score: 8.1
– Air date: Feb. 26, 1960
– Season 1, episode 21

A woman at a bus station has a couple of weird encounters with workers who claim that they just saw her moments ago. She then sees an evil twin version of herself. A man to whom she tells the story calls to police to have her committed, but then he too sees an alternate version of himself.

Vera Miles, who starred in Hitchcock’s “Psycho” as Lila Crane, plays the heroine in this episode.


#43. What You Need

– IMDb score: 8.1
– Air date: Dec. 25, 1959
– Season 1, episode 12

A peddler is able to predict what people will need in the near future even if they have no idea why. A crook plans to take advantage of this talent. The peddler gives him a pair of slippery shoes—as a result of which, the thief gets hit by a car.

The original story reportedly had a fortune-telling machine instead of a peddler.


#42. Where Is Everybody?

– IMDb score: 8.1
– Air date: Oct. 2, 1959
– Season 1, episode 1

A man who cannot remember who he is walks around a small town and finds it strangely devoid of human life, although vestiges, such as coffee on the stove, remain. It turns out the man is an astronaut in training. He’s training for space travel in an isolation chamber and the lonely scenes are his hallucinations.

The town square set was later used in the “Back to the Future” films.


#41. The New Exhibit

– IMDb score: 8.2
– Air date: April 4, 1963
– Season 4, episode 13

A man who works at a wax museum brings home five of the figures when a company buys the museum and plans to tear it down. Those five figures happen to be a collection of murderers that he’s fascinated with. Taking care of the five figures takes all of his money, and his wife and boss end up victims as well.

Though the script for this episode is credited to Charles Beaumont, it was ghost-written by Jerry Sohl.


#40. A Penny for Your Thoughts

– IMDb score: 8.2
– Air date: Feb. 3, 1961
– Season 2, episode 16

A banker buys a newspaper. When he tosses a coin into the newspaper box to pay for it, the coin lands on its edge, and the banker is suddenly equipped with powers to hear people’s thoughts. He nearly gets himself fired because of his new-found gift but ends up with a promotionand a new girlfriend.

Dick York plays the banker.


#39. A World of His Own

– IMDb score: 8.2
– Air date: July 1, 1960
– Season 1, episode 36

A writer can create people in the real world when he speaks into his dictation device. His wife takes issue when she catches him with a mistress he made up. She finds out the hard way that he made her up as well.

Keenan Wynn, son of “The Twilight Zone” star Ed Wynn, plays the writer.


#38. Printer’s Devil

– IMDb score: 8.3
Air date: Feb. 28, 1963
– Season 4, episode 9

The head of a failing newspaper makes a deal with the devil. He’s given a linotype machine with the power to make whatever it writes come true. The printer is able to use the machine to save himself from the devil.

The script is based on a short story by Charles Beaumont called, “The Devil, You Say?”


#37. Night Call

– IMDb score: 8.3
– Air date: Feb. 7, 1964
– Season 5, episode 19

A bedridden old woman begins receiving mysterious phone calls, upon which she hears first static, then, slowly, an emerging voice. When she calls the phone company, she learns that there is a downed phone line going into the cemetery, and she realizes the voice on the other end is her dead fiance. She yells at the voice to leave her alone, and he tells her he’s going to follow her orders.

This episode’s intended air date, Nov. 22, 1963, had to change because of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.


#36. Stopover in a Quiet Town

– IMDb score: 8.3
– Air date: April 24, 1964
– Season 5, episode 30

When a couple wakes up after a night of drinking, they find themselves in a fake world. The phone lies don’t work, and even the squirrels are stuffed. They find out that while they were driving home, aliens abducted them and gave them to a child as pets.

The bulletin board at the church advertises for Rev. Kogh Gleason. F. Keogh Gleason was a set decorator who worked on the show.


#35. The Changing of the Guard

– IMDb score: 8.3
– Air date: June 1, 1962
– Season 3, episode 37

A professor finds out that his contract won’t be renewed and begins to think that his life’s work was worthless. He considers committing suicide, but ghosts of his past students come to visit him and help him realize how important he was to them.

The professor reads a Horace Mann book that was the motto for writer Rod Serling’s alma mater.


#34. Number 12 Looks Just Like You

– IMDb score: 8.3
– Air date: Jan. 24, 1964
– Season 5, episode 17

In a world where people undergo surgery to look like one of a select series of faces when they reach adulthood, one woman resists letting go of her individual identity. Her father committed suicide after going through the process. The officials tell her that she doesn’t have to do it, but slowly take away her options.

All of the characters are named after movie stars.


#33. Little Girl Lost

– IMDb score: 8.3
– Air date: March 16, 1962
– Season 3, episode 26

Parents wake up to their daughter’s screams in the middle of the night. They go to her room to discover that she’s not there, but can still hear her cries. With the help of a friend, they determine that she’s disappeared into a portal to another dimension.

Sarah Marshall of “The Long Hot Summer” plays the mother.


#32. Deaths-Head Revisited

– IMDb score: 8.3
– Air date: Nov. 10, 1961
– Season 3, episode 9

A former German SS captain returns to the site of a concentration camp where he tortured prisoners. While the Nazi reminisces over the power he once yielded, a ghost of a man he killed appears to put him on trial. The man is sentenced to a life of madness.

The title refers to an SS symbol of a skull and crossbones.


#31. A Hundred Yards Over the Rim

– IMDb score: 8.3
– Air date: April 7, 1961
– Season 2, episode 23

A pioneer walks away from the trail of wagons to look for water for his son, who has a bad fever. He ends up time-traveling to the 1960s, and learns who his son will become in the future. He finds out penicillin might be the cure he needs and runs back to the past with pills in hand.

Cliff Robertson, who played Uncle Ben in the 2002 film version of “Spiderman,” stars as the father.


#30. Long Live Walter Jameson

– IMDb score: 8.3
– Air date: March 18, 1960
– Season 1, episode 24

A history professor is in the process of wooing his colleague’s daughter. It turns out the professor has been alive without aging for thousands of years, and his fiance’s father objects to the marriage, knowing that the man who can live forever will eventually drop her for someone younger. The professor apparently still has some traces of mortality left, though: when an angry ex shoots him, he finally finds out what death is like.

Kevin McCarthy from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” plays the professor.


#29. People Are Alike All Over

– IMDb score: 8.3
– Air date: March 25, 1960
–  Season 1, episode 25

Astronauts crash on a mission to Mars, and one survives. He eventually meets Martians, who seem quite human-like and offer to build him a house. He realizes too late that they’ve made a zoo habitat for him to live in while Martians gawk at him.

The script is based on a short story by novelist Paul Fairman.


#28. Third from the Sun

– IMDb score: 8.3
– Air date: Jan. 8, 1960
– Season 1, episode 14

In a classic Cold War commentary storyline, this episode focuses on a nuclear scientist who knows that impending war means the planet is about to end. He and his friend plan an escape for their families to another planet that he’s found and believes will sustain life. That place turns out to be Earth.

The background noises from the final scene were reportedly also used in “Star Trek.” It’s a perennial favorite on top “Twilight Zone” episode lists.


#27. The Lonely

– IMDb score: 8.3
– Air date: Nov. 13, 1959
– Season 1, episode 7

This episode centers on a convict spending his sentence isolated on an asteroid. All that he has to look forward to is when a supply ship comes to drop off what he needs to survive. He receives a special package with a female robot inside and develops a close relationship with her, but when he gets pardoned, he finds out there isn’t room to bring her back on the spaceship.

This episode was filmed on location in Death Valley.


#26. On Thursday We Leave for Home

– IMDb score: 8.4
– Air date: May 2, 1963
– Season 4, episode 16

The first human colony in space is waiting, after 30 years away, to be taken back to Earth. The colony’s leader begins to realize that he won’t matter anymore once they get back home, so he decides to stay when the rest of the colony leaves.

Buzz Kulik, the man behind the 1971 made-for-tv movie “Brian’s Song” and “Playhouse 90,” directs this episode.


#25. The Howling Man

– IMDb score: 8.4
– Air date: Nov. 4, 1960
– Season 2, episode 5

A man hiking in Europe takes shelter in an abbey during a rainstorm. The traveler discovers that the monks there have imprisoned a man who can’t stop howling, and one of the monks tells him that the man they’ve captured is the devil himself. The traveler, unsure who to believe, releases the howling man, and lives to regret it.

John Carradine, who voiced the Great Owl in “The Secret of NIMH,” plays the lead monk.


#24. The Invaders

– IMDb score: 8.4
– Air date: Jan. 27, 1961
– Season 2, episode 15

A woman cooking stew discovers that two little aliens have landed a flying saucer on her roof. She ends up in a fierce battle with them. It turns out that the aliens are actually from Earth and were sent to explore a planet of giants.

Agnes Moorehead, who plays Endora on “Bewitched,” stars in this episode.


#23. The Hitch-Hiker

– IMDb score: 8.4
– Air date: Jan. 22, 1960
– Season 1, episode 16

A woman driving across the country starts to see a hitchhiker after she blows out a tire. A mechanic fixes it for her easy enough, and she’s back on the road, but she keeps seeing the same hitchhiker no matter how far she drives. She gets more and more freaked out—understandably so, because the man on the side of the road turns out to be Death.

The script was adapted from a radio play by Lucille Fletcher.


#22. Walking Distance

– IMDb score: 8.4
– Air date: Oct. 30, 1959
Season 1, episode 5

An ad executive leaves New York on a spontaneous road trip to slow down a little. When he stops to have his car serviced, he realizes that he’s an easy walk from his childhood hometown. When he gets there, he sees his parents with his 11-year-old self, which gets confusing for everyone. His dad convinces him that he has to go back to the present.

The park in the episode was reportedly inspired by a park in the hometown of creator and writer Rod Serling.


#21. Shadow Play

– IMDb score: 8.5
– Air date: May 5, 1961
– Season 2, episode 26

A man gets a death sentence for murder. He tells everyone that he doesn’t want to die again because he keeps having the same nightmare that he is electrocuted. He warns them that if they kill him, they, too, will cease to exist.

Dennis Weaver of “McCloud” stars as the doomed man.


#20. Nothing in the Dark

– IMDb score: 8.5
– Air date: Jan. 5, 1962
– Season 3, episode 16

An old woman who is so afraid of death that she won’t open her door is forced to confront her fears when a policeman is shot on her stoop. She brings him inside, where they have a long, frank conversation about the unknown. When a contractor tells her that her building will be demolished the next day, the policeman helps her move on to the next part of her life’s journey.

Robert Redford plays the policeman.


#19. Nick of Time

– IMDb score: 8.5
– Air date: Nov. 18, 1960
– Season 2, episode 7

A couple on honeymoon is waiting in a diner while their car is in the shop. They find a fortune-telling machine, and the man gets drawn in as the things it predicts begin to come true. After his new wife gives him a good talking to, she’s able to drag him away from it.

William Shatner stars in this episode.


#18. The After Hours

– IMDb score: 8.5
– Air date: Jun. 10, 1960
– Season 1, episode 34

A woman goes to a department store to buy a gold thimble for her mother. An elevator operator sends her to the ninth floor, where she buys a thimble, only to realize on her way out that it’s scratched. When she talks to the sales associates, she learns there is no ninth floor, and on her quest to find the person who helped her with the thimble, she learns who, or what, she really is.

This is one of three episodes with an eye rather than a spiral at the beginning.


#17. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

– IMDb score: 8.6
– Air date: Feb. 28, 1964
– Season 5, episode 22

During the Civil War, Union troops are scheduled to hang a Southerner at Owl Creek Bridge. The rope breaks, and he falls into the water. He does his best to elude the soldiers chasing after him as he makes his way home to his wife, but his neck snaps, ending the fantasy.

The script is based on a story by the American poet and humor writer Ambrose Bierce.


#16. The Silence

– IMDb score: 8.6
– Air date: April 28, 1961
– Season 2, episode 25

At a men’s club, one member can’t stop talking. Another member challenges the first to a bet: if he can stay silent for a whole year, in a room at the club specially rigged to know if he cheats, then he wins $500,000. When he succeeds, the other man confesses that he doesn’t have the money to pay the prize, and the once-loquacious club member reveals that he’s destroyed the nerves in his vocal cords.

Liam Sullivan, who was also Graham in “That Darn Cat,” plays the talkative club member.


#15. The Midnight Sun

– IMDb score: 8.6
– Air date: Nov. 17, 1961
– Season 3, episode 10

Earth has been knocked out of orbit and is moving closer and closer to the sun. People are trying to escape the heat, which is so intense that paintings are melting, and two neighbors do their best to survive as everyone else flees their building. When one of the neighbors wakes up, she realizes that she’s had a fever the whole time and learns that the world is actually moving away from the sun and getting colder.

Jason Wingreen, who later appeared in “Airplane!” plays a neighbor in this episode.


#14. And When the Sky Was Opened

– IMDb score: 8.6
– Air date: Dec. 11, 1959
– Season 1, episode 11

Three astronauts go into space and crash into the desert. As they recover from the ordeal, one in the hospital and the other two in a bar, they start to disappear. Everyone around them forgets they ever existed.

Jim Hutton from “The Green Berets” stars in this one.


#13. The Masks

– IMDb score: 8.7
– Air date: March 20, 1964
– Season 5, episode 25

A dying rich man knows that all his heirs want his is money. He tells them that if they want to be left in the inheritance, they have to wear masks to his Mardi Gras party. The masks make their faces change to match their biggest flaws.

Ida Lupino, who directed this episode, is the only female director “Twilight Zone” in the show’s original run.


#12. The Shelter

– IMDb score: 8.7
– Air date: Sept. 29, 1961
– Season 3, episode 3

In the middle of a dinner party, a group of suburbanites finds out that they’re about to get nuked. One man has built a bomb shelter for his family, and he won’t let anyone else inside. They find out that it was a false alarm; but not in time to save their friendships.

Jack Albertson, who played Grandpa Joe in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” is one of the shut-out neighbors.


#11. Five Characters in Search of an Exit

– IMDb score: 8.7
– Air date: Dec. 22, 1961
– Season 3, episode 14

In a fan-favorite episode, a major, a clown, a dancer, a hobo and a bagpiper find themselves trapped together in a cylindrical room. They don’t know how they got there, how long they will be there or even who they are. They try to escape, but fall down every time they hear a loud clang.

The script is based on a short story by Marvin Petal, who was reportedly paid $250.


#10. A Stop at Willoughby

– IMDb score: 8.7
– Air date: May 6, 1960
– Season 1, episode 30

An ad man tired of his life falls asleep on a train and discovers a town called Willoughby. His wife critiques his fantasies, and he decides that life is better there. He steps off a moving train to his death in order to stay in the town he loves.

The train station names used in the show are reportedly from the New Haven Railroad.


#9. Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?

– IMDb score: 8.8
– Air date: May 26, 1961
– Season 2, episode 28

Policemen are investigating a reported flying saucer crash. They find a group of bus passengers stranded at a diner while they wait out a snowstorm. Only trouble is, there are one too many passengers. The cops try to figure out which one is the Martian, while the alien has his own plans for world domination. The episode mentions fellow real-life sci-fi/fantasy writer Ray Bradbury by name as part of the story.

This is the first “Twilight Zone” episode directed by Montgomery Pittman.


#8. The Obsolete Man

– IMDb score: 8.8
– Air date: June 2, 1961
– Season 2, episode 29

In a totalitarian society, a librarian is sentenced to execution because he’s deemed obsolete. The government allows the condemned man to choose how he will die. He requires the state’s Chancellor to be there for a televised showing of his death.

Burgess Meredith, who played Mickey in the “Rocky” films, is the librarian. He returns on the list in “Time Enough At Last” at #4.


#7. Living Doll

– IMDb score: 8.9
– Air date: Nov. 1, 1963
– Season 5, episode 6

When a man’s wife and daughter come home with a new doll, he is immediately off-put by the toy. The doll starts telling him that it hates him and wants to kill him. He tries taking a blowtorch to the doll, but she, and a flight of stairs, get the better of him.

The house set was later used in the “Twilight Zone” episode “Ring-a-Ding Girl.”


#6. It’s a Good Life

– IMDb score: 8.9
– Air date: Nov. 3, 1961
– Season 3, episode 8

In an iconic performance by Billy Mumy, a six-year-old boy reigns terror on his small town with his powers to read minds and get rid of anyone who thinks less-than-good thoughts. The adults slowly lose their patience and are sent “to the cornfield.” Some contemplate trying to kill him, but they don’t succeed. Cloris Leachman plays the boy’s mother.

In 2003, this episode became the only one to get a sequel. It’s widely recognized as one of the best episodes of the series, and was ranked #3 by TIME Magazine, behind “Time Enough At Last” (ranked #4 on our list) and “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” (#5 on our list).


#5. The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

– IMDb score: 9
– Air date: March 4, 1960
– Season 1, episode 22

When the lights go out on a tree-lined, suburban street, someone suggests that aliens are attacking. As the weirdness continues, neighbors become suspicious of each other, escalating to mass hysteria. The aliens who do want to control the planet watch from a distance as humans do a perfectly fine job of destroying themselves.

Jack Weston, who played Max Kellerman in the classic film “Dirty Dancing,” is one of the neighbors.


#4. Time Enough at Last

– IMDb score: 9.1
– Air date: Nov. 20, 1959
– Season 1, episode 8

A banker who prefers books to everything else in his life is the sole survivor when a nuclear bomb goes off while he’s in the vault reading. Since his wife and boss never gave him time to read, he’s happy to be left alone with his books. Then his glasses break. The legendary actor Burgess Meredith, plays the banker. It remains a poignant, if ironic, ode to bibliophiles and introverts everywhere.

Series creator and writer Rod Serling said this was one of his favorite episodes.


#3. To Serve Man

– IMDb score: 9.2
– Air date: March 2, 1962
– Season 3, episode 24

Aliens come to Earth and appear to want to make peace. Though people are initially skeptical, they’re impressed by the extraterrestrials’ helpful additions to their lives. Then, when they leave behind a book, people work to decode what it means. It’s a cookbook.

The script is based on a story by sci-fi novelist Damon Knight.


#2. Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

– IMDb score: 9.2
– Air date: Oct. 11, 1963
– Season 5, episode 3

In one of the most famous “Twilight Zone” episodes of all time, William Shatner stars as a man recovering from a nervous breakdown. He sees a monster attacking the plane he’s flying in, but he’s not sure if it’s real. At first, he tries to downplay his concern and asks his wife to make sure the pilot checks on that part of the plane. As he becomes more convinced, he has to choose between making his wife think that he’s still crazy and saving her life.

John Lithgow plays Shatner’s famous role in Spielberg’s film version of Twilight Zone in 1983. The episode has been spoofed and parodied numerous times in popular culture, including on “Saturday Night Live,” in “The Lego Batman Movie,” and on “The Simpsons.”



#1. Eye of the Beholder

– IMDb score: 9.2
– Air date: Nov. 11, 1960
– Season 2, episode 6

Perhaps the most classic episode of the series focuses on a woman recovering from her 11th facial surgery, undergone in order to make herself look pleasing enough to avoid being sent away to a colony of hideous people. When her bandages come off, revealing what would be, in our world, a beautiful woman, the doctor is disappointed. Then, we finally see what everyone else looks like. Serling’s critique of physical beauty and conformism through the story feels even more relevant today.

The legendary makeup artist, William Tuttle, who created the dazzlingly creepy and unexpected looks for this episode, also created the effects for the Morlocks in the 1960 sci-fi film “The Time Machine” as well as a number of other iconic films as the head of makeup at MGM during his storied 40-year career. The music is provided by the iconic composer and frequent Hitchcock collaborator, Bernard Herrmann, who also wrote the theme for the series.

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