The 5 'Twilight Zone' Episodes Every Die-Hard Fan Knows By Heart

The only similarity between any two episodes of The Twilight Zone is the appearance of Rod Serling, dressed in a suit with a cigarette in his hand. During its five season run, The Twilight Zone produced 156 episodes, each with its own unique story and characters.

The Twilight Zone always blurred the line between sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. While Christmas seems to be the time that Twilight Zone marathons are run on television, Halloween seems like an equally fitting time to binge. Here are five of the scariest episodes of The Twilight Zone guaranteed to make part of a great Halloween viewing.

1. 'The Midnight Sun'

Decades before global warming became a real issue, The Twilight Zone depicted a world moving ever closer to the sun. It gets hotter by the day. The scariest part about this episode is that everybody knows they are doomed from the very beginning, so they just try their best to carry on. This is one of the more aesthetically pleasing episodes of the show (shots of paint dripping, a thermometer breaking) and also filled with some of its funniest moments (the radio announcer who can't help but go off script). Not to mention, "The Midnight Sun" is about surviving the hottest day in history in Manhattan. Anybody who has ever spent a summer day in Manhattan understands the absolute terror of a heat wave in New York City. 

2. 'Nightmare at 20,000 Feet'

Come for a performance by a very young William Shatner, stay for a half hour of entertaining horror antics. This whole episode takes place inside of an airplane during a simple time when people dressed up for air travel, smoked cigarettes in coach, and didn't look outside to see if there were gremlins trying to bring the plane down. "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" uses claustrophobia to its advantage and brings all possible paranoid flying fears to life. It's a gripping episode, and its strange to think that fear of flying was probably a pretty new thing at the time of its release. The only problem about this episode, however, is that the gremlin in question looks more like a demonic Fozzie Bear than an actual monster. 

3. 'Death's Head-Revisited'

Sure, aliens and robots are frightening, but nothing beats a Nazi war criminal. A former SS officer's creepily gleeful return to a concentration camp is dampened when he is put on trial by the ghosts of his past. This episode, which turns a concentration camp into a haunted Indian burial ground, is one of the most profound episodes of The Twilight Zone. It never provides a comfortable answer for how to deal with evil — just a way to take away power from it. "Death's Head-Revisited" is a short morality tale in a film as good as any feature length film. 

4. 'A Thing About Machines'

Eight years before HAL 9000 terrorized the entire crew of Discovery One in 2001: A Space Odyssey, a man was chased by his electric razor and then his car in The Twilight Zone. An angry man abuses his machines, and then finds they're turning against him. So what this episode is saying is that machines could become so smart that they develop a mind of their own? Our cars, even our phones, can become smart? Such an idea could never, ever come true.  

5. 'Eye of the Beholder'

Are you trying to write a twist ending? Then pay very close attention to "Eye of the Beholder," a master class in visually obscuring information. In this dystopian society, looks determine everything and those who do not fit society's standard of "beautiful" are doomed to be outcasts. After all of these years, none of this episode's commentary has lost its relevance. It will make you think and then rethink everything you once knew about social standards. 

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Ian Phillips

I am an alumni of the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. I am passionate about all things film and television. You can find more of my writing, podcasts, and scrambled thoughts at reeldealblog.com

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