The Twilight Zone is an American anthology television series created and presented by Rod Serling, which ran for five seasons on CBS from 1959 to 1964. Each episode presents a stand-alone story in which characters find themselves dealing with often disturbing or unusual events, an experience described as entering “the Twilight Zone,” often ending with a surprise ending and a moral. Although predominantly science-fiction, the show’s paranormal and Kafkaesque events leaned the show towards fantasy and horror. The phrase “twilight zone,” inspired by the series, is used to describe surreal experiences.
The series featured both established stars and younger actors who would become much better known later. Serling served as executive producer and head writer; he wrote or co-wrote 92 of the show’s 156 episodes. He was also the show’s host and narrator, delivering monologues at the beginning and end of each episode. Serling’s opening and closing narrations usually summarize the episode’s events encapsulating how and why the main character(s) had entered the Twilight Zone.
In 2016, the series was ranked No. 7 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest shows of all time. In 2002, The Twilight Zone was ranked No. 26 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. In 2004, it was ranked #8 on TV Guide’s Top Cult Shows Ever, moving to #9 three years later. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it as the third best-written TV series ever and TV Guide ranked it as the fourth greatest drama, the second greatest sci-fi show and the fifth greatest show of all time.
Here’s a look back at unforgettable tales from Rod Serling’s classic supernatural series.
Rod Serling pauses for a cigarette and coffee between scenes during filming of “The Twilight Zone” in this 1961 photo. (AP Photo)
Burgess Meredith pauses on the stage of the immortal “Time Enough At Last,” giving us a fantastic glimpse at this detailed set. (The Everett Collection)
Peter Falk is hardly recognizable as Columbo here, playing a Castro-like dictator in “The Mirror.” (The Everett Collection)
Actors Michael Fox and Douglas Spencer are being fitted for their two-headed Martian costume, as seen in “Mr. Dingle, the Strong.” (The Everett Collection)
Will the real Anne Francis please stand up? Makeup artist Charles Schram applies some powder on the set of “The After Hours” — to the face of a dummy. (The Everett Collection)