Heartwarming: The Twilight Zone (1959)
aka: 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.
- Doubly heartwarming if you look at it as Death simply not trying very hard to get away from Mr. Bookman's sales pitch.
- Triple heartwarming if you consider the whole thing Death's Batman Gambit to make Bookman come on his own terms.
- In one online version of the episode, just before he and Bookman walk off towards the afterlife, Death takes a quick look at his watch. It's 11:59.
- 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".
- 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 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".
- "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.
- 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.