10 Twilight Zone Episodes That Shock Fans to This Day

The classic sci-fi series The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) is so influential that it's referenced in iconic shows like The Simpsons and horror flicks like Us (2019). Although The Twilight Zone ended sixty years ago, its dark and eerie episodes resonate with viewers to this day. While every episode shares a dark message about society and the future of humanity, some stand out more than others.

1. Eye of The Beholder (Season 2, Episode 6)

The Twilight Zone: Eye of the Beholder Donna Douglas, William D. Gordon, Jennifer Howard
Image Credit: CBS.

This episode questions beauty standards in a world with strict rules about conformity. A woman in a dystopian society undergoes facial reconstructive surgery to repair her disgustingly ugly face. But when the bandages come off, we realize beauty is subjective.

2. Five Characters in Search of an Exit (Season 3, Episode 14)

The Twilight Zone: Five Characters in Search of an Exit Kelton Garwood, Susan Harrison, Murray Matheson, Clark Allen
Image Credit: CBS.

When an army major awakes in a strange tall cylinder, he's accompanied by an odd collection of people: a bagpiper, a clown, a ballet dancer, and a homeless man. They have no idea how dire their situation is as they plot to escape their confines.

3. Mirror Image (Season 1, Episode 21)

The Twilight Zone: Mirror Image Joseph Hamilton, Vera Miles
Image Credit: CBS.

A woman is waiting for her bus when she asks the man at the ticket counter when it will arrive. He tells her to quit asking so many questions, claiming she's been up to the booth twice already. She soon realizes that her evil doppelgänger is causing the confusion. Can she stop the strange lookalike before she takes over her life for good?

4. Nick of Time (Season 2, Episode 7)

The Twilight Zone: Nick of Time Rod Serling
Image Credit: CBS.

When a newlywed couple stops at a diner for a bite to eat, they sit at a table with a strange fortune-telling machine. The husband asks the fortune teller questions, and the cryptic answers prove correct. But can the couple take control of their future, or are they fated to follow the fortune-teller's word for life?

5. Living Doll (Season 5, Episode 6)

The Twilight Zone: Living Doll Tracy Stratford
Image Credit: CBS.

“Living Doll” is about a girl whose mother gifts her a doll called “Talky Tina” who says, “My Name is Talky Tina, and I love you very much,” whenever you pull the string on her back. The girl's distant stepfather begins to hate the doll when he realizes it has more choice words to share with him. But no matter what he does, he can't escape the doll's wrath.

6. Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (Season 5, Episode 3)

The Twilight Zone: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet Rod Serling
Image Credit: CBS.

This famous Twilight Zone episode confronts the blurred lines between reality and insanity. After suffering a nervous breakdown, a man is admitted to a hospital for six months before his release. On the plane ride home, he looks out the window to see a gremlin on the wing, ready to cause a plane crash. But no one will believe his pleas, thinking he's gone mad again.

7. To Serve Man (Season 3, Episode 24)

The Twilight Zone: To Serve Man Susan Cummings
Image Credit: CBS.

The world is in disarray as its leaders attempt to prevent mass starvation and warfare. When aliens land on Earth, they convince humanity that they're here to help rebuild society and end famine. While many question the alien's motives, others are pleased with the results as wars end and people are well-fed again. However, when people begin to move to the alien's home planet, they realize the aliens have more sinister plans.

8. The Shelter (Season 3, Episode 3)

The Twilight Zone: The Shelter Jack Albertson, Joseph Bernard, Mary Gregory, Jo Helton, Sandy Kenyon, Moria Turner
Image Credit: CBS.

“The Shelter” tells a tale of human desperation at the world's end. During a dinner party, the guests hear an announcement that nuclear warfare has broken out. The host and his family enter their emergency underground bunker while the other guests plot to break down the doors and join them, knowing the bunker only contains enough air for three people.

9. The Howling Man (Season 2, Episode 5)

The Twilight Zone: The Howling Man Robin Hughes, H.M. Wynant
Image Credit: CBS.

When a man is caught in a terrible storm, he stumbles upon a dark castle and asks the monks inside for help. When he enters, he encounters a strange, howling man locked away in a dungeon. But the monks urge him to leave the man be, as he's the Devil. But the man doesn't believe the monks and decides to free the imprisoned man anyways.

10. It's a Good Life (Season 3, Episode 10)

The Twilight Zone: It's a Good Life Cloris Leachman, Don Keefer, John Larch, Bill Mumy, Max Showalter, Tom Hatcher
Image Credit: CBS.

One of the most blood-chilling episodes of The Twilight Zone is “It's a Good Life.” It's about a monster with the power to control anything with his mind. He can read the thoughts of others, create mutant animals, and isolate the entire town from the rest of the world. The monster is a six-year-old boy who never learns right from wrong because his parents fear his omniscient powers.

What episodes of The Twilight Zone are stuck in your memory forever?

Maya (she/they) is a queer entertainment and culture journalist. They cover interviews, reviews, roundups, news, and more. She loves horror, history, and creativity. They hope their writing both entertains readers and inspires them to think critically. Her favorite pastimes include needle felting, gaming, and drawing.