The 10 most powerful closing statements from The Twilight Zone

Rod Serling's narrations continue to ring true.

The Twilight Zone is best remembered for its twist endings. The true meaning of the book title To Serve Man. What lies under the bandages in "Eye of the Beholder." The ironic fate of Mr. Henry Bemis' spectacles. You remember the spoilers.

Rod Serling and his writers had a knack for clever closures. As each tale wrapped, the voice of Serling would return as the omniscient narrator. In almost all cases he is unseen (one of the few exceptions is below). Typically, the creator-host would confirm and explain the shocking twist you just viewed. He could be cheeky or darkly comic as he summed up the moral of the story.

But Serling was just as often provocative, philosophical and profound. When you look at them at a whole, recurring themes emerge. Clocks and time are frequently discussed. Nostalgia, fate, mortality and memory are common threads throughout all five seasons.

Few television creators wore their hearts and minds on their sleeves like Serling. Yes, that could sometimes mean whacking the viewer over the head with his message. That being said, this unabashed boldness is what makes The Twilight Zone such a lasting piece of art.

These following ten closing narratives from the original 1959–1964 series still stick with us. What are your favorites?

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"Walking Distance"

One of the earliest endings in the series is also one of the longest musings from Serling. Here, his thoughts on nostalgia and its potential trappings are laid in full.

"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."

"The Monsters are Due on Maple Street"

Watch this profound, succinct finale in the video above.

"It isn't enough for a sole voice of reason to exist. In this time of uncertainty, we are so sure that villains lurk around every corner that we will create them ourselves if we can't find them — for while fear may keep us vigilant, it's also fear that tears us apart — a fear that sadly exists only too often — outside the Twilight Zone."

"Shadow Play"

"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, instead — in The Twilight Zone?"

"The Obsolete Man"

This episode and "The Fugitive" stand out as the two rare instances when Serling appeared before the camera to deliver the closing message. That underlines its importance to the creator. It was originally scripted to be much longer. We have added back his omitted text in italics.

"The chancellor, the late chancellor, was only partly correct. He was obsolete. But so is the State, the entity he worshiped. Any state, entity, or ideology becomes obsolete when it stockpiles the wrong weapons: when it captures territories, but not minds; when it enslaves millions but convinces nobody; when it is naked, yet puts on armor and calls it faith, while in the Eyes of God it has no faith at all. Any state, any entity, any ideology which fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of Man...that state is obsolete. A case to be filed under "M" for "Mankind" — in The Twilight Zone."

The Shelter

"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."

"Death's Head Revisited"

"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."

"He's Alive"

"Where will he go next, this phantom from another time, this resurrected ghost of a previous nightmare — Chicago? Los Angeles? Miami, Florida? Vincennes, Indiana? Syracuse, New York? Anyplace, everyplace, where there's hate, where there's prejudice, where there's bigotry. He's alive. He's alive so long as these evils exist. Remember that when he comes to your town. Remember it when you hear his voice speaking out through others. Remember it when you hear a name called, a minority attacked, any blind, unreasoning assault on a people or any human being. He's alive because through these things we keep him alive."

"In Praise of Pip"

"Very little comment here, save for this small aside: that the ties of flesh are deep and strong; that the capacity to love is a vital, rich, and all-consuming function of the human animal. And that you can find nobility and sacrifice and love wherever you may seek it out: down the block, in the heart or in the Twilight Zone."

"Steel"

"Portrait of a losing side, proof positive that you can't outpunch machinery. Proof also of something else: that no matter what the future brings, man's capacity to rise to the occasion will remain unaltered. His potential for tenacity and optimism continues, as always, to outfight, outpoint and outlive any and all changes made by his society, for which three cheers and a unanimous decision rendered from the Twilight Zone."

"I am the Night – Color Me Black"

"A sickness known as hate. Not a virus, not a microbe, not a germ — but a sickness nonetheless, highly contagious, deadly in its effects. Don't look for it in the Twilight Zone — look for it in a mirror. Look for it before the light goes out altogether."

 
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Randall 1 month ago
The twilight zone is needed now we seem to have forgotten the wisdom that this show teaches not to be perfect but just aware of our fellow citizens essential if we are to survive as a society I wish cbs would just show these wonderful episodes during prime time we need it
Hogansucks1 2 months ago
I would want Rod in my circle of friends when the s*it Really hits the fan !! Thinks out of the box- cool, calm and collected in any situation. 🧐
Hogansucks1 2 months ago
We need more people similar to Rod Serling on this Earth- especially in Washington D.C. !!!!!!!!! ☺️
VanessaTara 3 months ago
'the last pallbearer', 'midnight sun', 'five characters in search of an exit'
kimmer 4 months ago
"Twilight Zone", and "One-Step Beyond" we're my favorite shows that helped shape my knowledge and love for mystery, intrigue, and that lust for wanting to know an answer exists somewhere.
Evan 4 months ago
The first one, Walking Distance, has always been my favorite. Melancholy and beautiful. And true.
Pilaf 4 months ago
The one I remember vividly after seeing it 60 years ago is Cecil Kellaway's: "Where there are men, there can be no peace."
Mac2Nite 4 months ago
Rod Serling was a genius, in every sense of the word: A genius is a person who displays exceptional intellectual ability, creative productivity, universality in genres or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of new advances in a domain of knowledge. He "felt" so much of the pain the world was...and still is in. He wrote parables that disquised messages we weren't ready or willing to hear in the 50's & 60's... and sadly... for many... people still don't want to listen to those truths. He is sorely missed.
Hogansucks1 Mac2Nite 2 months ago
HERE-HERE!
Diz 4 months ago
I will add that I got into The Twilight Zone comic book as a kid in the 60's and I still pull a few out now and then. Some of the stories were great.
cnorrn 4 months ago
This show was before my time but i still love it. My kids don't know what New Years Eve is without a TZ marathon. Mr. Serling was clearly a genius, he pushed in all directions. One episode would denounce white supremacy and the next would warn against state sanctioned atheism. It seems like his shows were "guard-rails" against extremism, to far to the left or the right and down we go! Oh where has that wisdom gone?
MADEABREAK 4 months ago
I loved that show when I was a kid and I still love it today. Serling said in an interview once that he thought about one third of the TZ's were good, about one third average, and one third not so good. I think they were exceptional, very good, and just plain good. Also, without his opening and closing narrations, they would not be nearly so memorable. One of my favorite closing narrations not included above is from "The Fear"......."It depends on who can look down and who must look up. It depends on other vagaries, like the time, the mood, the darkness. But it's been said before, with great validity, that the worst thing there is to fear is fear itself. Tonight's tale of terror and tiny people on the Twilight Zone"
EricFuller 4 months ago
Very timely. Forget Nostradamus. Rod was spot-on.
Ken 4 months ago
I've offered, in the past, to conduct a class for large corporations and their employees on "Disaster Preparation and Survival". One of the tools I'd use, as a "Post Class Bonus" is playing the Twighlight Zone Episode "The Shelter". The educational points to be illustrated in that (to top off all of the excellent information given in the regular class session) would be:

1) There truly is a VERY THIN LINE between the "survival of the fittest" and "Law of the Jungle" vs "Civilized Society". With fear and perhaps desperation, many will revert to the former...destroying the latter.

2) That those you THINK are your friends and can be trusted, because of point #1, may end up being the worst of your enemies and threats in such disasters.

3) And lastly, the FINAL lesson is: "You've learned much of what YOU and your family need to ensure your safety and survival in the event of a Disaster. But do not brag...do not even reveal your preparations and knowledge to friends or neighbors -- for they may end up upon YOUR door in a threatening manner!"

Sadly (and perhaps a commentary on America who has believed that "Government will save them" in those times of disaster), I never have gotten a single corporation to take me up on this employee education effort -- even if HELPING THEM in ensuring their employees would report for work...being safe in the knowledge their families are already provided for.

Perhaps now, with the COVID-19 event, hearts and minds will change. But America too often has quickly "moved on" -- forgetting the lessons to be learned about various events. Time will tell...

K. Arnold
Civil Defense Survival Box.Com
harlow1313 Ken 4 months ago
We all die. There is risk everyday. I choose, to the best of my limited ability, not to dwell on and live in perpetual fear.
MichaelKing 4 months ago
Rod Serling's words are as relevant today as they were when he first spoke them - in some cases, even more so.
lucirush MichaelKing 4 months ago
DEFINITELY!!!!
RoberttheWallace 4 months ago
Just watched " Death's Head Revisited " last night and I concur, it is Awesome; a couple of ones that are my favorites: "Back There " { John Wilkes Booth }, " The New Exhibit " { Martin Balsam }, the one about the Martian at the diner [ believe it's " Will The Real Martian Stand Up ", " The Hitchhiker ", etc. 99.9% of the episodes are supremely Awesome!
Wiseguy RoberttheWallace 4 months ago
99.9%? Come on, no show can achieve that. That sounds like something a fanboy would say, along with "Every episode should have won an Emmy®!" In reality, it really does come down to thirds: third great; third OK; third lousy. (You have seen the 4th and 5th seasons, right?)
Mac2Nite Wiseguy 4 months ago
You're entitled to your opinion... and we are all entitled to ours. Don't mock another person's opinion. It belongs to them and not to you.
lucirush RoberttheWallace 4 months ago
Saw that one the other night, too. Sill makes my flesh crawl when I watch it. Man's inhumanity to man is described so beautifully in this episode.
BZCITY RoberttheWallace 4 months ago
All are great! I can watch them over and over again!
RoberttheWallace 4 months ago
I wholeheartedly agree--Mr. Serling truly had supreme insight into the frailties, strengths, dreams, fantasies, and nightmares of the human race; the quintessential reason why " The Twilight Zone " is so Very relevant and popular today. Its message is timeless and apropos today as it was 60 years ago! Mr. Serling's original offering blows the remake away; it's tragic he was such a chronic smoker, he might be with us today! He really was a treasure, and a good man! ! !
logicgrrl 4 months ago
An excellent book to read about Rod Serling is "As I Knew Him" by his daughter Anne Serling.
Mac2Nite logicgrrl 4 months ago
Couldn't agree more! It was a wonderfully poignant tribute to her Dad, whom she loved so dearly.
Kathytexan logicgrrl 4 months ago
Thank you! I downloaded it a while ago. Your comment makes me want to read it as soon as I can.
Marcy 4 months ago
I showed episodes of the Twilight Zone in my sixth grade classroom to address social issues of today. Entertaining and thought provoking, and the discussions that followed were rich!
From what I've read about Mr Serling, I think he would have been happy, pleased and possibly even honored that you showed his eps. {or I guess any eps.} of TZ to your class. I think I remember reading that he taught a class {or spoke to one,} about Writing,I think the topic was.
Hogansucks1 Marcy 2 months ago
THATS the kind of teachings we need in our educational system, my 6th grade teacher was like that- The BEST teacher I’ve EVER had. Wish I could say Thank-You to him. ☺️
Stoney 4 months ago
Serling had a great insight into the human condition, which is a big reason why "The Twilight Zone" holds up so well 60 years later.
lucirush Stoney 4 months ago
Exactly. The show is as topical now as it was 50 years ago--probably even more so.
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