Heartwarming: The Twilight Zone
The show wasn't about being warm and fuzzy, but it still had a few moments..
- In the first season episode "One for the Angels", an elderly pitchman named Lou Bookman is confronted by the Angel of Death who tells Bookman to put his affairs in order as he is scheduled to pass away in his sleep at midnight. Bookman tries to trick Death by convincing him to wait until he makes his greatest ever sales pitch, "one for the angels", but when Death agrees to the deal, Bookman immediately makes plans to quit his job and never make another pitch, and thus live forever. Then Bookman learns that someone has to die at midnight, and since Death is honoring their deal, he's going take a little girl who lives in Bookman's building instead. Bookman distracts Death with the greatest sales pitch he has ever done, making Death miss his midnight appointment and fulfilling their original agreement.
Death: One minute past twelve, Mr. Bookman. And you made me miss my appointment.
Bookman: Thank God.
Death: A most persuasive pitch, Mr. Bookman. An excellent pitch.
Bookman: Yes, quite a pitch. Very effective. It's the best I've ever done. It's a kind of a pitch I always wanted to make. A big one. A pitch so big... so big that the sky would open up.
Death: A pitch for the angels.
Bookman: That's right, a pitch for the angels. [pauses] Well I... I guess it's time for me now?
Death: As per our agreement.
Bookman: Well, I'm ready.
Death: After you, Mr. Bookman.
[they start to walk away]
Bookman: Oh, excuse me, I forgot something. I'll be back in a minute. [gathers up his box full of merchandise] You never know who might need something, up there... Up there?
Death: Up there, Mr. Bookman. You made it.
- Also "The Hunt", a must see episode for any dog lover. A backwoods hunter and his hound dog drown in a river, and the hunter finds a man who says a nearby gate is the entrance to heaven, but dogs aren't allowed. The hunter elects to stay in limbo forever rather than be without his dog. Then a second man (who turns out to be an angel) shows up and says the first one was trying to trick him into entering hell, not allowing the dog in because he would smell the brimstone and warn his master. The two of them really will be able to spend eternity together in heaven.
Angel: You see, Mr. Simpson, a man, well, he'll walk right into Hell with both eyes open. But even the Devil can't fool a dog!
- It gets better— The angel assures him that there will be a coon hunt right after the square dance, as the hunter had been worried that Heaven was just for "big city folk" and had no room for a simple woodsman like him, and that the hunter's wife will have no trouble on the way. It's Heaven, and everyone has a place.
- "Night of the Meek" features an alcoholic Mall Santa (whose rant explaining why he's an alcoholic is featured on the YMMV page). He gets a hold of the real Santa's sack, and proceeds to hand out gifts to all of the poor children (and adults!) in the neighborhood. The end of the episode shows him sitting on a stoop, magic bag empty, and reminiscing over the amount of smiles he'd been able to give that night. Someone comments he's taken nothing for himself, and he only muses the only thing he'd like would be the gift of doing the same every year. He enters an alley, where he meets one of Santa's elves, who approaches him and tells him that they'd been waiting for him, and they need to get a start on next year.
- The Twilight Zone story called "Changing of the Guard". An old professor at a New England boy's school (played by Donald Pleasence, even though he was only in his early forties at the time), well past retirement but too beloved to be let go, is informed that yes, despite being a favorite teacher, he is in fact being let go, if with a generous pension. He takes this rather badly, and contemplates suicide. On his way to kill himself, he passes a statue and reads the quotation on the base, "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.". The professor then reflects that he has not won any victory for humanity, and is quite ashamed to die. He cocks his pistol, puts it to his head, and...hears the sound of bells, chiming at an odd hour, followed by seeing lights in classrooms that should be dark. He goes to investigate, and is greeted by the ghosts of some of his old students. They explain to him in turns that yes, they died, and died to save others, at Chateau-Thierry, and at Pearl Harbor, and on Papua New Guinea, and they all died remembering some lesson he had taught them. One learnt patriotism, another learned humility, and a third courage. At the end of it, he thanks them all, and walks back to his room. As he passes the statue, he reads the quotation again, and comments that he has won no great victory, but he has helped others, and that may be enough.
- "Nothing in the Dark". An old woman is terrified to let anyone in her house, because she fears Death may come for her. Then a young police officer is wounded outside her door, and she relents and takes him in to care for him. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the officer is Death, and that he wanted her to get to trust him and accept him. Now knowing that Death is not the monster she'd imagined, she finally touches his hand, and then is standing by her own dead body next to Death, who says: "You see. No shock. No engulfment. No tearing asunder. What you feared would come like an explosion is like a whisper. What you thought was the end is the beginning." Then, hand in hand, she walks with Death out into the sunlight.
- The fifth season opener "In Praise of Pip" is both heartwarming and Tear Jerking. Jack Klugman plays a small-time bookie named Max Phillips who receives word that his son Pip, whom he loves dearly but with whom he was never able to spend as much time as he would have liked, has been gravely wounded while serving in the military in South Vietnam. Following a confrontation with his boss in which he is himself wounded, Max stumbles to a darkened carnival at which he and Pip spent many happy days together... and finds a ten-year-old Pip, who gives him a big hug and talks about how excited he is to spend another day of fun with his "best buddy". The carnival lights up and father and son have a whale of a time on the rides and attractions, until Pip tells him he has to go... because he is dying in South Vietnam. After unsuccessfully trying to pursue Pip through a house of mirrors, Max stumbles into the midway and begs God to take his life instead of Pip's, at which point he falls down dead from his earlier wound. Flash forward, and Pip, now walking with a cane, has returned from South Vietnam and is spending the day at the carnival, and as he pays for a turn at the shooting gallery and remembers his father's advice to remove his chewing gum first, he tells his father that he always was his "best buddy".
- The Twilight Zone's 2002's revival had "Homecoming", a wonderful story about a missing soldier who comes back from the dead to indulge his son, a rebel teenager with no future, into being a better man.
- Though the ending is a bit of a Tear Jerker, "Kick The Can" is one of the most timeless and haunting of the Twilight Zone episodes. The part that is heartwarming is that the old man's belief that magic is real turned out to be true.
- "The Paladin of the Lost Hour", an episode of the 1980s revival written by Harlan Ellison. A man burdened by a debt he feels he can never repay (Glynn Turman) meets and befriends an older man (Danny Kaye) who is getting ready to pass on - and not just from life, but the custodianship of a watch that holds the last hour of the world's existence, an hour that can never be allowed to strike. One minute of that hour is granted to the first man, who gets to finally meet and thank the unknown Marine who saved him from an ambush in The Vietnam War, at the cost of his own life... and be thanked in turn, as the Marine never knew he was there and thought he'd died in vain. He relates all of this to his friend, who dies peacefully and leaves him as the new guardian of the watch.
- The end of "To See the Invisible Man". The episode takes place in a Bad Future where being cold and nasty to people results in the punishment of "invisibility"—the criminal is marked with a brand on the forehead, which means that everyone is forbidden, on pain of arrest, from interacting with him or her. A man receives the treatment, and while at first he has fun by stealing things and spying on beautiful women, he quickly goes mad from the isolation and begs someone, anyone, to acknowledge him. At one point, he sees a pretty red-headed woman walking by, and chases after her, screaming for help and pleading for her to speak to him; she walks away without a word. After the year is up, the man has reformed, and is a better person for it...until the day when he sees the red-headed woman, now marked with the invisibility brand herself, on the street. She pursues him, reminding him that he knows what it's like, but he ignores her...only to stop, embrace her, and say "I can see you! You are not invisible!" The episode ends with robots surrounding the man to take him into custody; the narrator comments that the program worked too well for the main character, and that he faced the punishment with pride the second time around.
- "The Trade-Ins" was a simple yet touching episode. An old couple wants to trade their old bodies for newer ones to continue living a happy life together. However, they only have enough money for only one of them to take the operation. The husband then tries to win the rest of the money by gambling with poker, but is horribly unskilled. Taking pity on the old man, the lead poker shark purposely folds his winning hand so that the old man can break even. On his wife's insistence with the intent of winning the wife's share of the operation later, the husband undergoes the operation, but afterwards realises that he won't be able to earn the money for his wife's operation in time. In the end, the old man decides to cancel the operation and live the remainder of his old life with his wife together.
- The male and female soldiers (who used to be on opposite sides of a war) getting together in "Two".
- In the 1985 revival episode "The Star", a priest grieves over an alien civilization that was destroyed by a supernova (which the light would have reached Earth, and be seen as the "Star Of Bethlehem"). He cries out to God, questioning why the aliens had to die when there were other stars with lifeless planets to chose from. However, his friendly rival, an astrophysicist, found a poem in the aliens' archive, which says they have lived a very long, peaceful life and saw the beauty of the universe. They knew they were going to die, but they're okay with it and accept their fate. "Whatever destiny was theirs, they fulfilled it. Their time had come, and in their passing, they passed their light on to another world. A balance was struck, and perhaps one day, whenever we've fulfilled whatever destiny we have, maybe we too will light the way for another world." This comforts the priest and renews his faith.
- It's even more heartwarming if you've read the original story, which was a full Downer Ending. (It stopped at the end of the second sentence in the above description.)
- In the 1985 revival episode "Quarantine", a man named Matthew Forman cryogenically frozenduring the early 21st Century due to a terminal illness is revived 300 years later by Perfect Pacifist People with Psychic Powers living in an Arcadia based on an agrarian lifestyle supplemented by Organic Technology. They need his help, supposedly to reactivate orbital particle beam cannons from his time to deflect in incoming asteroid. Questioning their motives, he discovers that they are an After the End society, a mere 200,000 people descended from survivors of World War III. The "asteroid" is actually a U.S. spacecraft loaded with elite politicians and military personnel that fled Earth just as the war began in a bid to survive by using a relativistic orbit that would take advantage of Time Dilation to return them to Earth once the aftereffects of the war had passed. They would then takeover whatever was left of humanity, and had the weapons to do it. No longer capable of fighting a war to defend themselves, the people decided to revive Matthew and get him to use the weapons of that era to destroy the incoming spacecraft in a case of Utopia Justifies the Means. He is horrified, but too late to stop them. The people all feel a collective guilt, but know they did what they had to do to prevent the "disease" of war from returning to Earth. In the end, they help Matthew learn to use Astral Projection to follow his original dream of traveling to the stars, leading to a rare optimistic ending to an episode:
Narrator: In his mind, he starts to hear a song, a song of alien thoughts speaking without voice, welcoming him. Matthew Forman, once a sleeper standing outside time, has found his place at last. A voyager touching the farthest shores...of the Twilight Zone.
- In the 2003 revival, one episode has a doctor meeting with Death (who is a rather kindly person). While the doctor does not believe that the man is Death and thus ignores Death's proclamation that he will give up killing people, it soon becomes apparent that the patients in the hospital the doctor works at are not dying when they ought to be. The doctor ends up finding Death and asking him to go back to his job, because there are patients suffering from severe burns and can't find relief through death. After Death agrees to go back on the job (even though it saddens him greatly), the doctor suffers a very painful headache. Death helps him sit down, comforts him, and then reveals that the doctor just died of an aneurysm. While the doctor is obviously not happy he just died and Death admits to being tempted to just letting him go back to being alive, both agree that it's best to not mess with the way things ought to be and Death peacefully leads him to the afterlife.
- While it eventually is spoiled, in the 2002 series episode Sanctuary, it is very sweet when the man and the woman find the modern-day Eden and begin to take joy in the natural pleasures of life.
- In the 2002 revival, in the episode "Memphis", a man named Ray finds that he has a lethal brain tumor and probably can not afford the only specialist who can operate to remove it. After being hit by a car, he finds himself back in 1968. While there, Ray tries to save Martin Luther King Jr. from the assassin but fails. Instead, he chooses to save the life of a boy who was the son of a woman who took Ray in after he woke up in the past. When Ray returns to the present, he finds out that the boy he saved grew up to be the specialist, and that he runs a program for patients who can't afford treatment, so he can save Ray's life.
- "A Passage for Trumpet". It's basically 25 minutes of a suicidal guy learning that, yes, his life has sucked at times, but there were also plenty of good times he's forgotten, and that he should accept whatever life throws at him, be it good or bad.
- In "The Trouble With Templeton", actor Booth Templeton is going through a Heroic BSOD - behaving meekly while longing for the good old days of thirty years earlier, such as his dead first wife, Laura. After a rough first meeting for his newest play, Booth is suddenly transported to those good old days and encounters his loved ones. However, his reunions aren't quite what he expected - to the point of no one taking him seriously and Laura finally demanding "go back where [you] came from." Booth returns to the present and is quite distraught... until he realizes he has a script he earlier took from Laura: What To Do When Booth Comes Back. Learning that it was all an act to get him to live life to the fullest, a smiling Booth shakes his Heroic BSOD and regains his confidence.
- In "Long Distance Call", a little boy whose grandmother had recently died could talk to her from beyond the grave using a toy telephone she gave him for his birthday. During the episode it seems that the boy keeps on getting into deathly situations so he can "join his grandma"; and eventually, when his parents take away the phone from him, he almost drowns. As it turns out, the reason the grandmother was trying to have the grandson join her in the after life, was because he reminded her of his father at his age and was sad that he had stopped being so warm to her when he got married. Near the end of the episode, when it seems that hope has run out for the boy and he might die, the father picks up the phone (though prior to this moment he did not believe in the abilities of the phone) and begs his mother to let the boy live and experience the world and not take out her anger at him on his son. It works.
- "The After Hours"' ending is strangely heartwarming. The main character is one of the department store's mannequins. While sad, the ending shows that the mannequins care for each other, and that she will get to be human again someday soon.
- "The Bewitchin' Pool". The episode is all about how there's another world run by a kindly old woman named "Aunt T". Aunt T takes in children from abusive or unloving parents and gives them a happy home. The entire choice of whether to stay there or not is left up to the children. When the protagonists initially feel bad about leaving their parents, Aunt T is perfectly fine with them going back home.
- "I Sing the Body Electric".
- The ending of "Mr. Bevis." Bevis decides that material success means nothing compared to being who he is, loving everybody, and being loved in return. Further, the guardian angel who wanted to "help" Mr. Bevis with said material success decides to keep helping him in little ways, like returning the jalopy and later preventing Bevis from getting ticketed for illegal parking.
- "Dead Run" from the 1985 version. A trucker has taken up the job of ferrying the damned to Hell, only to learn, much to his distaste, that the standards of Hell have greatly loosened - a lot of people are going to Hell for such "crimes" as using drugs or being gay. The trucker's solution? Keep the job, but halfway down the road, open the trailer and let out anyone who didn't deserve it. The last shot is the freed souls on the road to Heaven as the trucker drives off. (The episode won the show an award from GLAAD.)
- The episode "Static" features a bitter old bachelor who has wasted his youth and lost the love of his life. He eventually finds a radio that mysteriously plays music from his past, but only he can hear it and it causes others to question his sanity. In the end, the power of the radio transports him back to his past, giving him a second chance with the love of his life.