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If you have never seen an episode of The Twilight Zone, then you cannot call yourself a true fan of television. The Twilight Zone is always among the top of any credible list of the best television shows in history. Created by Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone has 156 self contained stories that stick with an audience in a way no other show does. Some Twilight Zone episodes are great because of how creepy they are, while some episodes are great because of the powerful moral lessons they teach. While I recommend you watch the whole show, here are the best episodes of The Twilight Zone. Luckily they are all available on Amazon Prime and Hulu.
The Eye Of The Beholder
If you've ever heard anything about The Twilight Zone, it was probably about this episode. This is arguably the most famous episode of the series for both its twist ending and its powerful message. The plot surrounds a girl who's having plastic surgery for her hideous face. She says she's tried everything she can to look normal and this is her last chance to not be ugly. If you somehow haven't heard of the ending right now I won't spoil it for you but you have to watch it as soon as possible. Even if you do know the ending, the episode is still a powerful one to watch. The way it's shot to hide the twist until the ending is nothing short of genius. The message rings true; beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.
The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street
This episode is, in my opinion, the one with the most impactful lesson. One night on this normal street, there is a flash of light and a bang and suddenly no one on Maple Street has power. Not only are lights out and the phone is dead, but even their cars won't start. The neighbors gather together to figure out what to do when one of the children starts talking about monsters. He said he read a comic book where the same thing happened, the monsters turned off everyones power in order to isolate them. The scariest part to his story is that the monsters looked like human. Suddenly one of the neighbors cars starts by itself and that causes suspicion. Thing escalate and by the end of the episode the neighbors are trying to kill each other because they all suspect the other one is a monster. This episode also ends in a little twist, but the main point of the episode is the lesson. The final line of the episode really captures the message, "the tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices – to 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."
As I said before, not every episode of The Twilight Zone has a powerful lesson behind it, some just have brilliant twist endings, and The Hitch-Hiker is one of those episodes. The story begins with Nan, who is driving cross country to LA, and gets into an accident. The mechanic, who's surprised she survived, points her to the nearest town to fix her car. It's then she notices a strange man hitchhiking. As the episode progresses, she keeps seeing the same man hitchhiking and she gets more and more terrified. At one point she even tries to run over the strange man. The episode ends with one of the most shocking twist endings in the series. Considering how many twist endings there are in The Twilight Zone, that's saying something.
To Serve Man
This episode is one of my personal favorites. It starts with a man named Michael on an alien spaceship having a flashback of how he got there. A alien race, The Kanamits, come to Earth and vow to fix all of its problems. The Kanamits go to the UN and help convince the world they can solve everyones problems. The Kanamits leave a book in an alien language and someone tries to decipher it. Meanwhile, The Kanamits have stopped hunger and brought on world peace. Even the skeptics are starting to believe The Kanamits, especially when they translate the title of the book and realize it's called "To Serve Man." Now convinced that these aliens are here to help us, humans start boarding their ship to take trips to The Kanamits' home planet. Right before Michael gets on the ship the big twist is revealed. You probably figured it out by now, but if not I don't want to be the one to spoil it, go check out the episode for yourself.
There so many great episodes I haven't mentioned, "Walking Distance", "Invaders", "The Masks", "Talking Tina" and so many more. The Twilight Zone is truly a timeless classic and its messages are just as powerful today as they were in the 1960s. If you haven't seen the show I strongly suggest you move it to the top of your watch list.