The Twilight Zone is one of the greatest television series ever made. From intimate stories like “The Lonely” to sprawling ones like “Execution,” The Twilight Zone is widely known as a series that entertains and challenges its audience in equal measure. This is a list of the best Twilight Zone episodes ranked with a look back at what made these stories so important.

The Best Episodes of The Twilight Zone

30. The Mighty Casey

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - The Mighty Casey - StudioBinder

Manager of the fictional Hoboken Zephyrs from “The Mighty Casey”

“The Mighty Casey,” the penultimate episode of the first season, is certainly one of the shows goofiest. We follow baseball Manager Mouth McGarry in his desperate quest to put a winning team on the diamond. But of course, Garrys’ team stinks.

Everything changes when an odd man shows up to a practice and asks that his associate be allowed to pitch for the team. That pitcher is the mighty Casey, a robot.

As silly as the episode is, there are some very interesting points raised about the future of automation and the spirit of competition.


The Mighty Casey (Aired 6/17/60)

  • Serling Narration: “Once upon a time, there was a major league baseball team called the Hoboken Zephyrs, who, during the last year of their existence, wound up in last place and shortly thererafter wound up in oblivion. There's a rumor, unsubstantiated, of course, that a manager named McGarry took them to the West Coast and wound up with several pennants and a couple of world championships. This team had a pitching staff that made history. Of course, none of them smiled very much, but it happens to be a fact that they pitched like nothing human. And if you're interested as to where these gentlemen came from, you might check under 'B' for The Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 6.2/10
  • Watch Now

Great Alien Episodes of The Twilight Zone

29. Hocus Pocus and Frisby 

Mr. Frisby aboard the UFO in “Hocus Pocus and Frisby”

Many episodes of The Twilight Zone are fables. That is, their purpose lies in the telling of a moral. In “Hocus Pocus and Frisby," that moral is as simple as the boy who cried wolf. Mr. Frisby takes generous liberty with the stories he tells.

So when he’s actually captured by aliens, nobody is inclined to believe him. Thus lies in the tale that the truth is what sets us free.


Hocus Pocus and Frisby (Aired 4/13/62)

  • Serling Narration: “Mr. Somset Frisby, who might have profited by reading an Aesop fable about a boy who cried wolf. Tonight's tall tale from the timberlands...of the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 7.5/10
  • Watch Now

Creative Episodes of The Twilight Zone

28. A World of His Own

Rod Serling disappears in “A World of His Own”

"A World of His Own," is best known for breaking the fourth wall in a comedic manner. Mr. Gregory West is a world famous playwright, who by way of the twilight zone, is able to bring his characters to life.

When his wife finds out that he’s summoned one of his characters to be his mistress, complications arise. For all the fun the episode has with this story mechanic, it’s also a staunch reminder to not surround yourself entirely with fiction.


A World of His Own (Aired 7/1/60)

  • Serling Narration: “Leaving Mr. Gregory West, still shy, quiet, very happy — and apparently in complete control of the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.2/10
  • Watch Now

The Best Episodes of The Twilight Zone

27. Execution

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - Execution - StudioBinder

Joe Caswell about to be hanged for murder in “Execution”

At the end of a noose, Joe Caswell accepts his fate as an irredeemable criminal in "Execution." But in the flash of an eye, he’s transported into the future. This episode explores the cyclical nature of crime and how justice always finds the criminal.

“Execution” also has some of the best production in any episode of The Twilight Zone. The episode spans sets from the wild west, to laboratories, to neon lit city streets.


Execution (Aired 4/1/60)

  • Serling Narration: “Commonplace — if somewhat grim — unsocial event known as a necktie party, the guest of dishonor a cowboy named Joe Caswell, just a moment away from a rope, a short dance several feet off the ground, and then the dark eternity of all evil men. Mr. Joe Caswell, who, when the good Lord passed out a conscience, a heart, a feeling for fellow men, must have been out for a beer and missed out. Mr. Joe Caswell, in the last, quiet moment of a violent life.”
  • IMDB Rating: 7.3/10
  • Watch Now

Nightmare Episodes of The Twilight Zone

26. Five Characters in Search of an Exit

“Five Characters in Search of an Exit” - A collection of question marks

In "Five Characters in Search of an Exit," an Army Major wakes up to find himself trapped in a giant tube with a hobo, a ballerina, a bagpipe player, and a clown. This episode plays out like a thought experiment from Jean-Paul Sartre.

As the characters yearn for escape from this nightmare, we feel existential dread wash over the scene like a still-full milk shake on old toys in a city trash can.


Five Characters in Search of an Exit

(Aired 12/22/61)

  • Serling Narration: “Just a barrel, a dark depository where are kept the counterfeit, make-believe pieces of plaster and cloth, wrought in a distorted image of human life. But this added, hopeful note: perhaps they are unloved only for the moment. In the arms of children, there can be nothing but love. A clown, a tramp, a bagpipe player, a ballet dancer, and a major. Tonight's cast of players on the odd stage...known as The Twilight Zone. ”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.7/10
  • Watch Now

Political Episodes of The Twilight Zone

25. The Trouble With Templeton

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - The Touble with Templeton - StudioBinder

Booth Templeton is sent back in time in “The Trouble With Templeton”

In the episode "The Trouble with Templeton," Booth Templeton is a Broadway star who has lost his appetite for all that he once cared for. But after being overwhelmed by the pressure of the present, Templeton is sent back thirty years to reconnect with his dead wife.

While there, Templeton discovers that the grass is always greener when looking through rose-colored glasses and that nostalgia can be the thing that brings a man down. He returns to the present with a newfound fervor to live life to its fullest.


The Trouble With Templeton (Aired 12/9/60)

  • Serling Narration: “Mr. Booth Templeton, who shared with most human beings the hunger to recapture the past moments, the ones that soften with the years. But in his case, the characters of his past blocked him out and sent him back to his own time, which is where we find him now. Mr. Booth Templeton, who had a round-trip ticket...into The Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
  • Watch Now

War Episodes of The Twilight Zone

24. King Nine Will Not Return

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - King Nine will Not Return - StudioBinder

The marked grave of Sgt. William F. Kline in “King Nine Will Not Return”

The Season 2 premiere “King Nine Will Not Return” is one of the series most intimate episodes. This is the first episode where Rod Serling delivered his opening narration on screen.

Serling tells the audience that we are witnessing the site of a lost bomber plane, somewhere between Tunisia and the Southern tip of Italy. Captain James Embry awakes without the faintest clue where the rest of his crew has gone.

Serling, a former paratrooper in the U.S. Army, delivers his narration here with deep resonance. By the end of the episode, we see the toll that the sting of war has had on so many.


King Nine Will Not Return (Aired 9/30/60)

  • Serling Narration: “Enigma buried in the sand, a question mark with broken wings that lies in silent grace as a marker in a desert shrine. Odd how the real consorts with the shadows, how the present fuses with the past. How does it happen? The question is on file in the silent desert, and the answer? The answer is waiting for the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 6.8/10
  • Watch Now

Best Cold War Episode of The Twilight Zone

23. The Shelter

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - The Shelter - StudioBinder

The shell-shocked neighborhood in “The Shelter”

“The Shelter” is Rod Serlings’ brilliant response to cold-war hostility. On a night just like any other, a group of friends and neighbors share a cordial dinner together. But when a radio broadcast declares that nuclear annihilation is imminent, the group battle each other for spots in the fallout shelter.

With this story, Serling exposes the inherent evil within the hearts of people and that without any incentive whatsoever, humanity is intrinsically plagued with a desire to destroy itself.

At a time of escalating tension between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Serling inserts himself into the conversation, reminding both parties that we must be civilized to survive.


The Shelter (Aired 9/29/61)

  • Serling Narration: “No moral, no message, no prophetic tract, just a simple statement of fact — for civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized. Tonight's very small exercise in logic from...the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.7/10
  • Watch Now

The First Episode of The Twilight Zone

22. Where is Everybody?

The Twilight Zone, then and now - CBS News

The very first episode of The Twilight Zone “Where is Everybody” is one of its very best. It starts with a nameless man wandering into a diner. He tries to ring for service, but no one is there. He goes into town, but nobody is there either.

The man quickly loses his sanity in the ghost town. In a fit of delirium, he desperately presses a traffic signal button while ranting for help. In the end, it’s revealed that this seclusion is an experiment to test the limits of the human mind. With space travel just around the corner, the military is testing how long humanity can survive in absolute solitude.


Where is Everybody? (Aired 10/2/59)

  • Serling Narration: “Up there, up there in the vastness of space, in the void that is sky, up there is an enemy known as isolation. It sits there in the stars waiting, waiting with the patience of eons, forever the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB: 8.7/10
  • Watch Now

The Greatest Episodes of The Twilight Zone

21. Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - Nightmare at 20,000 Feet - StudioBinder

The monster appears at the window in “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”

In this classic episode, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," starring William Shatner, a man just recently released from an asylum is forced to confront the demons that caused his first mental breakdown.

Because on this fateful flight, he is haunted by a monster who appears to be sabotaging the flight-wing. The subsequent hysteria sends the flight into a deafening tailspin, into what Rod Serling calls ‘the darkest corner of The Twilight Zone.”

As an aside, the 2010 SNL parody sketch of this episode is one of the all time greats.


Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (Aired 10/11/63)

  • Serling Narration: “The flight of Mr. Robert Wilson has ended now, a flight not only from point A to point B, but also from the fear of recurring mental breakdown. Mr. Wilson has that fear no longer, though, for the moment, he is, as he has said, alone in this assurance. Happily, his conviction will not remain isolated too much longer, for happily, tangible manifestation is very often left as evidence of trespass, even from so intangible a quarter as The Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 9.2/10
  • Watch Now

Best Romance Episodes of The Twilight Zone

20. The Chaser

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - The Chaser - StudioBinder

Roger Shackleforth buying a love potion in “The Chaser”

The Twilight Zone is a show that tackles dark themes like the haunting of war, or the loneliness in the stars, but in “The Chaser," Serling attacks the ever-modern notion of toxic relationships. Roger Shackleforth is an ordinary man who’s obsessed with a woman that wants nothing to do with him.

So when he’s presented the chance to buy a potion that will make her fall in love with him, he buys it up, although doubtful of its efficacy. But when the potion actually works, Roger finds that unconditional love can be rather suffocating. The twist at the end serves as a cautious reminder of what can come of blind lust.


The Chaser (Aired 5/13/60)

  • Serling Narration: “Mr. Roger Shackelforth, who has discovered at this late date that love can be as sticky as a vat of molasses, as unpalatable as a hunk of spoiled yeast, and as all-consuming as a six-alarm fire in a bamboo and canvas tent. Case history of a lover boy, who should never have entered...The Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 7.1/10
  • Watch Now

Top War Episodes of The Twilight Zone

19. Two

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - Two - StudioBinder

The two war-torn lovers in “Two”

“Two” is an episode with very little dialogue. But both actors, Elizabeth Montgomery and Charles Bronson, give excellent physical performances. In what Serling says is “maybe a 100 years in the future, or two million years ago,” this nameless city is torn to ruins.

And the only two survivors are Bronson and Montgomery. This a love story between humans at their primal roots; desperate for meaning and affection. The ending is surprisingly optimistic by Twilight Zone standards, as the two embark back out into the hellscape but, this time, not alone.


Two (Aired 9/15/61)

  • Serling Narration: “This has been a love story — about two lonely people, who found each The Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 7.8/10
  • Watch Now

Top Season 4 Twilight Zone Episode

18. On Thursday We Leave for Home

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - On Thursday We Leave for Home - StudioBinder

Sloane and Benteen in “On Thursday We Leave for Home”

In Season 4 of The Twilight Zone, CBS changed the shows format from half-hour to full-hour episodes. The result of this change was a largely negative one. In 30 minute episodes, the story followed the same general seven-set formula:

  1. Intro
  2. Breaking Moment Within First 5 Minutes
  3. Rising Action 
  4. Midway Point (Commercial)
  5. Climax
  6. Falling Action
  7. Denouement and Outro Narration
That formula was disrupted with hour-long episodes as Serling was forced to adjust with subplots that were often unneeded. That being said, the best episode of season 4, “On Thursday We Leave for Home," is a great sci-fi story that draws heavy inspiration from Isaac Asimov’s Foundation books.


On Thursday We Leave for Home (Aired 5/2/63)

  • Serling Narration: “William Benteen, who had prerogatives: he could lead, he could direct, dictate, judge, legislate. It became a habit, then a pattern and finally a necessity. William Benteen, once a god, now a population of one.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.4/10
  • Watch Now

Top Twilight Zone Episodes

17. Nick of Time

“The Future!” Clip in “Nick of Time”

The title crawl of the show features a mantra that states that The Twilight Zone is a place where science meets superstition. In “Nick of Time," superstition is put to the test when a honeymooning couple believe that a mystic box at a restaurant is predicting their future. 

It’s not the rabbit foot, the four-leaf clover, or the astral chart that turns people into slaves of fate; it’s the belief that these idols have significant meaning on the outcome of things.

In Conclusion

Nick of Time (Aired 11/18/60)

  • Serling Narration: “Counterbalance in the little town of Ridgeview, Ohio. Two people permanently enslaved by the tyranny of fear and superstition, facing the future with a kind of helpless dread. Two others facing the future with confidence — having escaped one of the darker places of the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.4/10
  • Watch Now

Best Horror/ Scary Twilight Zone Episodes

16. The Hitch-Hiker

“Terror has a form” Clip in “The Hitch-Hiker”

In this episode titled “The Hitch-Hiker," Ms. Nan Adams is on a cross country road trip. Point of departure: New York City. Destination: Los Angeles. Travel party: Solo.

That is until she meets the physical embodiment of terror, the hitch-hiker. This is The Twilight Zone’s best ‘horror’ episode; one that is captivating and terrifying throughout.


The Hitch-Hiker (Aired 1/22/60)

  • Serling Narration: “Nan Adams, age twenty-seven. She was driving to California; to Los Angeles. She didn't make it. There was a detour...through the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.4/10
  • Watch Now

Top Twilight Zone Episodes

15. Walking Distance

“Try Looking Ahead” Clip in “Walking Distance”

As Rod Serling suggests, it’s in the nature of every man to yearn for home. In “Walking Distance," Mr. Martin Sloan, an ad executive, travels back to his childhood home in the hopes he can rid himself of the forlorn feeling he’s plagued with. But when he arrives at the aptly named town of ‘Homewood,’ he’s transported back twenty-five years.

While there, he meets his mother and father, and a boyhood version of himself. “Walking Distance” is about cool Summer nights at the lake, sneaking popcorn bags to the movies, and all the other care-free privileges so many kids get to enjoy. Like the saying goes; “don’t be sad it’s over, just be happy that it happened.’


Walking Distance (Aired 10/30/59)

  • Serling Narration: “Martin Sloan, age thirty-six, vice-president in charge of media. Successful in most things but not in the one effort that all men try at some time in their lives — trying to go home again. And also like all men, perhaps there'll be an occasion, maybe a summer night sometime, when he'll look up from what he's doing and listen to the distant music of a calliope, and hear the voices and the laughter of the people and the places of his past. And perhaps across his mind there'll flit a little errant wish, that a man might not have to become old, never outgrow the parks and the merry-go-rounds of his youth. And he'll smile then too, because he'll know it is just an errant wish, some wisp of memory not too important really, some laughing ghosts that cross a man's mind, that are a part of the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.3/10
  • Watch Now

Top World War II Episodes of The Twilight Zone

14. Deaths-Head Revisited

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - Deaths-Head Revisited - StudioBinder

The prisoners at Dachau in “Deaths-Head Revisited”

Rod Serling’s “Deaths-Head Revisited" is one of the most sobering stories of the Holocaust, and one of the most important statements on not shying away from traumatic history.

The episode follows a former Nazi SS Captain who returns to the scene of his many crimes, the Dachau extermination camp. He does this because he’s evil, pure evil, motivated by nothing but cruel and sickening intentions.

When he arrives back at Dachau, the apparitions of those he slaughtered come back to haunt him. A doctor in the city suggests that Dachau be torn down so that people can move past the pain. 

In his final remarks, Rod Serling reminds us all that these diabolic horrors are not just things of the twilight zone, but things we must remember if we hope to not fall victim to the conscience of evil again.


Deaths-Head Revisited (Aired 11/10/61)

  • Serling Narration: “There is an answer to the doctor's question. All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes — all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to dwell on and to remember, not only in the Twilight Zone but wherever men walk God's Earth.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.2/10
  • Watch Now

Famous Twilight Zone Episodes

13. A Game of Pool

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - A Game of Pool - StudioBinder

Rod Serling in “A Game of Pool”

In “A Game of Pool," Jesse Cardiff is a pool shark that wants nothing more than to be the best pool player there ever was. Despite his obsession, he’s always regarded as second to the great Fats Brown. But late one evening, Cardiff is offered a chance to prove himself when the long-deceased Fats Brown enters the pool hall.

After an intense game, with constant camera shots of each actors sweaty faces, Cardiff wins and inherits the title of the worlds’ greatest pool player. What he doesn’t realize, is that the price of that title is an eternal responsibility to defend it. This episode is a beautiful indictment of perfectionism; that chasing perfection will only lead to your demise.


A Game of Pool (Aired 10/13/61)

  • Serling Narration: “Mr. Jesse Cardiff, who became a legend by beating one, but who has found out, after his funeral, that being the best of anything carries with it a special obligation to keep on proving it. Mr. Fats Brown, on the other hand, having relinquished the champion's mantle - has gone fishing. These are the ground The Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8/10
  • Watch Now

Scariest Twilight Zone Episodes

12. Time Enough at Last

There Was Time Now in “Time Enough at Last”

“Time Enough at Last” is one of the most depressing episodes of the series. The story follows a bank-teller named Henry Beemis who just wants to be left alone. He’s terrible at work because he’s always reading on the job. His wife is growing to resent him because he pays little attention to her. 

But when a nuclear bomb is dropped, Henry Beemis finds the peace and quiet he’s always wanted; but as with all things in The Twilight Zone, it has a cost, and a hefty one at that.


Time Enough at Last (Aired 11/20/59)

  • Serling Narration: “The best laid plans of mice and men...and Henry Bemis...the small man in the glasses who wanted nothing but time. Henry Bemis, now just a part of a smashed landscape, just a piece of the rubble, just a fragment of what man has deeded to himself. Mr. Henry the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 9.1/10
  • Watch Now


Several cast members of the 2019 reboot of The Twilight Zone cited “Time Enough at Last” as their favorite Episode of the original series.

Near-Future Episodes of The Twilight Zone

11. The Obsolete Man

“No Man is Obsolete” Clip in “The Obsolete Man”

In the near future, the State can condemn a man to death if he is termed obsolete. For Romney Woodsworth, a religious man and librarian, that’s exactly what happens. This episode plays out like an Orwellian nightmare, mixed with the fire of burning books from a Bradbury novel.

Most importantly, it’s a parabolic story of the evil of fascism. “The Obsolete Man” shows us what could come if governments and institutions go unchecked. 


The Obsolete Man (Aired 6/2/61)

  • Serling Narration: “You walk into this room at your own risk, because it leads to the future, not a future that will be but one that might be. This is not a new world, it is simply an extension of what began in the old one. It has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. It has refinements, technological advances, and a more sophisticated approach to the destruction of human freedom. But like every one of the super-states that preceded it, it has one iron rule: logic is an enemy and truth is a menace. This is Mr. Romney Wordsworth, in his last forty-eight hours on Earth. He's a citizen of the State but will soon have to be eliminated, because he's built out of flesh and because he has a mind. Mr. Romney Wordsworth, who will draw his last The Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.7/10 
  • Watch Now

Top 10 Twilight Zone Episodes

10. It’s a Good Life

“A very bad man!” Clip in “It’s a Good Life”

Perhaps it’s true that the greatest monster is our own inhibitions. In “It’s a Good Life," a dwindling village is tormented by a six-year old boy who happens to have the power of a God and the temperament of a Devil.

When he begins to kill animals with reckless abandon, his parents fear the monster that he is becoming. However, they’re inhibited by fear into doing what’s necessary; killing the boy before he becomes too dangerous. This episode is also a commentary on blind optimism.

Since everybody is so afraid of the boy, they feed him positive reinforcement, even when he destroys things they love. Ultimately, it’s better to live a truthful life, albeit with sad periods, than a false life that’s filled with manufactured happiness.


It’s a Good Life (Aired 11/3/61)

  • Serling Narration: “No comment here, no comment at all. We only wanted to introduce you to one of our very special citizens, little Anthony Fremont, age 6, who lives in a village called Peaksville, in a place that used to be Ohio. And, if by some strange chance, you should run across him, you had best think only good thoughts. Anything less than that is handled at your own risk, because if you do meet Anthony, you can be sure of one thing: you have entered The Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.8/10
  • Watch Now

Scary Twilight Zone Episodes

9. Eye of the Beholder

“Your Own Kind” Clip in “Eye of the Beholder”

“Eye of the Beholder” is one of the best episodes of The Twilight Zone for three reasons. First, the story is innovatively told; for much of the episode, the protagonist is masked and no faces are shown.

Second, the production is excellent; the hospital set, makeup, and costuming are all top-notch. Third, there’s an excellent moral lesson to this episode — that beauty truly does lie in the eye of the beholder.


Eye of the Beholder (Aired 11/11/60)

  • Serling Narration: “Now the questions that come to mind: "Where is this place and when is it?" "What kind of world where ugliness is the norm and beauty the deviation from that norm?" You want an answer? The answer is it doesn't make any difference, because the old saying happens to be true. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in this year or a hundred years hence. On this planet or wherever there is human life – perhaps out amongst the stars — beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Lesson to be the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 9.2/10
  • Watch Now

Top Ten Twilight Zone Episodes

8. Shadow Play

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - Shadow Play - StudioBinder

The Jury sentence in “Shadow Play”

A convicted murderer is forced to undergo his execution over and over for eternity; that is, unless he can convince the world that they are living in a dream. “Shadow Play” is The Twilight Zone at its best. Because at the heart of the show, we are meant to believe that the twilight zone is simply what we struggle to comprehend.

By the end of “Shadow Play,” you’ll be questioning the very nature of reality and whether the twilight zone is something more tangible than a world across the cosmos.


Shadow Play (Aired 5/5/61)

  • Serling Narration: “We know that a dream can be real, but who ever thought that reality could be a dream? We exist, of course, but how, in what way? As we believe, as flesh-and-blood human beings, or are we simply parts of someone's feverish, complicated nightmare? Think about it, and then ask yourself, do you live here, in this country, in this world, or do you live, The Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.4/10
  • Watch Now

Best World War II Episodes of The Twilight Zone

7. Judgment Night

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - Judgment Night - StudioBinder

Carl Lanser lost at sea in “Judgment Night”

In “Judgment Night," Carl Lanser finds himself aboard a British passenger ship on a foggy evening in 1942. He has no idea how he got there nor where he is going. Throughout the episode, Lancer incrementally discovers pieces of his forgotten identity.

And in the end, we’re shown that Lanser’s voyage on the S.S. Queen of Glasgow is none other than that of a fate condemned, forever sailing the seven seas of sin, on this, his judgement night.


Judgment Night (AIred 12/4/59)

  • Serling Narration: “The S.S. Queen of Glasgow, heading for New York, and the time is 1942. For one man it is always 1942 — and this man will ride the ghost ship every night for eternity. This is what is meant by paying the fiddler. This is the comeuppance awaiting every man when the ledger of his life is opened and examined, the tally made, and then the reward or the penalty paid. And in the case of Carl Lanser, former Kapitan Lieutenant, Navy of the Third Reich, this is the penalty. This is the justice meted out. This is judgment the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 7.4/10
  • Watch Now

Famous Twilight Zone Episodes

6. The Howling Man

Best Twilight Zone Episodes - The Howling Man - StudioBinder

David Ellington and Brother Jerome in”The Howling Man”

“The Howling Man” opens on a stormy night in 1925. American backpacker David Ellington finds himself begging for shelter at an old European monastery. The brotherhood’s leader, Brother Jerome, reluctantly allows the man to stay out the storm; on the condition that he pays no attention to the howling man in the castle.

Through a series of twists, the howling man’s true identity is made clear, and David Ellington represents the folly of man for not recognizing it.


The Howling Man (Aired 11/4/60)

  • Serling Narration: “Ancient folk saying: "You can catch the Devil, but you can't hold him long." Ask Brother Jerome. Ask David Ellington. They know, and they'll go on knowing to the end of their days and the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.4/10 
  • Watch Now


5. Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?

Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up? Clip

The premise of “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” is so simple that the title nearly implies it all. Two police officers are investigating reports of a UFO when they discover unknown footprints in the snow that bring them to a diner. There, they discover a group of patrons, all seven of which claim they are passengers on the bus waiting outside.

The only problem is that the bus driver is absolutely sure that there were only six passengers when they left, therefore one of the people is not who they say they are. This leads to an elaborate game of clue where hostilities arise, confusion pervades, and twists occur in spades.

All in all, “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” may be the most fun episode of The Twilight Zone ever.


Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?

(Aired 5/26/61)

  • Serling Narration: “Incident on a small island, to be believed or disbelieved. However, if a sour-faced dandy named Ross or a big, good-natured counterman who handles a spatula as if he'd been born with one in his mouth, – if either of these two entities walk onto your premises, you'd better hold their hands — all three of them — or check the color of their eyes — all three of them. The gentlemen in question might try to pull you The Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.8/10
  • Watch Now

Top Ten Twilight Zone Episodes

4. The Lonely

“Can you feel pain?” clip from “The Lonely”

In “The Lonely," a man named Corry lives a life of solitude on a far-way asteroid while waiting out his 50 year prison sentence. They say he committed manslaughter, but Corry claims he acted in self-defense. Every three months, he’s brought supplies.

On one of these supply trips, a sympathetic ship captain brings Corry a robot woman to help ease his loneliness. Although Corry initially rejects the woman’s comfort, he eventually succumbs to the idea that he doesn’t have to be lonely.


The Lonely (Aired 11/13/59)

  • Serling Narration: “On a microscopic piece of sand that floats through space is a fragment of a man's life. Left to rust is the place he lived in and the machines he used. Without use, they will disintegrate from the wind and the sand and the years that act upon them. All of Mr. Corry's machines, including the one made in his image, kept alive by love, but now The Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.2/10 
  • Watch Now

Twilight Zone Episodes Ranked

3. A Stop at Willoughby

The Way of the World - “A Stop at Willoughby”

The episode titled “A Stop at Willoughby," Mr. Gart Williams is a man who greatly dislikes what the world is becoming. He views his job as superficial, his boss as demeaning, and his wife as disingenuous. The entire world seems to be suffocating him with pressure.

But one day on his commute home, he dozes off and imagines an idyllic place called Willoughby. There he imagines a much more simple existence; one where he can fish in the afternoon and listen at the bandstand in the evening.

After a complete breakdown, Gart Williams chooses to believe that Willoughby is a real stop on his commute; not a commute from work to home, but rather one from the world of the living to that of the dead. As the saying goes, “the past is a one way ticket.”


A Stop at Willoughby (Aired 5/6/60)

  • Serling Narration: “Willoughby? Maybe it's wishful thinking nestled in a hidden part of a man's mind, or maybe it's the last stop in the vast design of things — or perhaps, for a man like Mr. Gart Williams, who climbed on a world that went by too fast, it's a place around the bend where he could jump off. Willoughby? Whatever it is, it comes with sunlight and serenity, and is a part of The Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 8.6/10
  • Watch Now

Most Iconic Twilight Zone Episodes

2. To Serve Man

“It’s a Cookbook!” Clip in “To Serve Man”

The awfully sinister “To Serve Man” is a firm reminder that a healthy dose of skepticism can go a long way. When an alien race arrives on Earth, they announce their intentions to spread humanitarian aid throughout the galaxies. They leave a strange book that cryptographer Michael Chamber is only able to deduce the title of, To Serve Man

Convinced of their good intentions, thousands of humans leave Earth to travel the stars with the aliens. But it’s revealed that their book is not a benevolent manifesto, but rather a cookbook; and that the only meal on their voyage across the cosmos, is man.


To Serve Man (Aired 3/2/62)

  • Serling Narration: “The recollections of one Michael Chambers with appropriate flashbacks and soliloquy. Or more simply stated, the evolution of man. The cycle of going from dust to dessert. The metamorphosis from being the ruler of a planet to an ingredient in someone's soup. It's tonight's bill of fare from the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 9.1/10 
  • Watch Now

The Best Episode of The Twilight Zone 

1. The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

“Quick to Kill” Clip in “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”

What will happen to the world when the lights go out? This is the question at the heart of “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," the very best episode of The Twilight Zone. Is it true that we are products of achievement? That the cars, radios, and yes, the lights make us civilized?

For the residents of one Maple Street USA, it is certifiable that this is the truth. When these people find their amenities stripped away, they revert back to primal tendencies; possession, accusation, and violence.

It’s not some external factor we have to fear, not aliens and not the nuclear bomb. It’s something much worse than that, because it’s something that exists within us all. And that for no reason whatsoever, humanity seems keen on taking us all to the twilight zone.


The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

(Aired 3/4/60)

  • Serling Narration: “The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill...and suspicion can destroy...and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own — for the children and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.”
  • IMDB Rating: 9/10
  • Watch Now

Up Next 

Best Sci-Fi Movies Ever Made

The Twilight Zone had a knack for asking the best "what if" questions. The science-fiction genre also asks these questions — with the same penchant for social commentary as Serling's series. These are the best sci-fi movies ever made.

Up Next: Sci-fi classics →
Solution Icon - Shot List and Storyboard

Showcase your vision with elegant shot lists and storyboards.

Create robust and customizable shot lists. Upload images to make storyboards and slideshows.

Learn More ➜

Tags: ,
  • Chris Heckmann is a Professor of Media & Communication at Roger Williams University and graduate of UCLA’s Cinema & Media Studies Master of Arts program. When he’s not writing or teaching, he’s probably playing video games (or thinking about the next great Boston sports trade).

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copy link