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YMMV: The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone (the original series)

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Talky Tina really evil or was she just trying to protect Christie?
  • Anvilicious: But then again...
  • Complete Monster: While most of The Twilight Zone lacked anything resembling pure evil, Gunther Lutze from season 3's "Death's Head Revisited" was the exception. A former Nazi concentration camp captain at Dachau, the opening narration describes Lutze as existing only to give pain; an animal strutting in a black uniform, walking the earth without a heart. Lutze revisits Germany, and plays a game where he mentally torments a woman at a hotel who recognizes him and is utterly terrified. After this, Lutze visits Dachau, reminiscing about his atrocities and flashing back to the times when he had innocent victims hanged, shot or experimented on as if those were the best years of his life, until he is confronted by Dachau's 'caretaker,' a former inmate named Becker. Lutze had murdered so many he can't even initially remember he actually killed Becker years ago before he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims. While The Twilight Zone often had Smug Snake villains to receive a comeuppance, Lutze was the most singularly vile. As the ending narration by Rod Serling states, he is representative of a time when a group of men tried to turn earth into a graveyard, and into it they threw away their compassion and humanity.
  • Ear Worm: NENE-NENE-NENE-NENE...
  • Fair for Its Day: While most episodes are timeless in their Aesops, a few that deal with bad marriages have become less-resonant with modern values, now that divorce has lost so much of its stigma. While "The Bewitchin' Pool"'s message that children should be cherished is still potent, its implication that a divorce will drive children away from their parents forever definitely comes across as short-sighted today.
    • Actually, it came across more about not taking the children's needs into consideration. The parents were already neglectful before they decided to divorce, and then forced to kids to decide who would be going to live with which parent. The mother than had the gall to chastise the kids for making it more difficult for herself and their dad, as if just choosing if you're going to live with your mother and father and being separated from your sibling for who knows how long was a trivial decision.
  • First Installment Wins: There have been a few revivals and spin-offs of the series, but the original show is easily the one that most people remember.
  • Heartwarming In Hindsight: The death of Jonathan Winters gives a new layer of meaning to this speech he delivered during his guest spot in "A Game of Pool", as renowned billiards champion "Fats" Brown:
    Dead? Not really. As long as people talk about you, you're not really dead. As long as they speak your name, you continue. A legend doesn't die just because the man does.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Set during World War II, "A Quality of Mercy" sees a lieutenant in the American forces sent back in a time by a few years and into the body of a lieutenant on the Japanese side. This main character here was played by Dean Stockwell, who would be on another show with a similar time travel concept about thirty years later.
  • It Was His Sled: The endings of several episodes, the most famous probably being "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," "To Serve Man," "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," and "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," although they've been put into spoiler tags for the sake of the few people who still don't know how they've ended.
    • "Time Enough At Last." Everyone knows what happens to Burgess Meredith. "No! There was time now! It's not fair!"
    • The twist at the end of "Eye of the Beholder".
  • Memetic Mutation: The Twilight Zone theme tune is spookiness.
    • "Imagine, if you will..."
    • "Submitted for your approval..."
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Perhaps the Ur Example. Every single episode has had its plot reused or redone by some sci-fi/horror show, movie, or book. Most modern viewers rewatching the series will often find themselves scratching their heads and asking, "How did people think this was scary? The story's been done to death." It's been done to death because Twilight Zone did it first. It really can't be overstated how explosively original (and at the time, controversial) a lot of the plots were, and the fact that they've since been repeated ad nauseum is a testament to The Twilight Zone's success as a show.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Why is the Mall Santa in the Christmas Episode "Night of the Meek" The Alcoholic? "All I know is that I'm an aging, purposeless relic from another time, and I live in a dirty rooming house on a street filled with hungry kids, and shabby people. Where the only thing that comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve is more poverty! I just wish, Mr. Dundee, that on one Christmas - only one! That I could see some of the hopeless ones, and the dreamless ones... just on one Christmas - I'd like to see the meek inherit the Earth." *shot cuts to black child, then back to Mr. Corwin* "That's why I drink, Mr. Dundee... and that's why I weep."
    • "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street". And then the same anvil had to be dropped again in the 2000's remake. Prejudice, paranoia, and hysteria can do your enemy's job a lot better than the enemy can.
    • The episode "He's Alive!", featuring Adolf Hitler as the mysterious advisor to a Neo-Nazi organization, may not seem to fit in this category today. Although, given that some four thousand people wrote in complaining about the portrayal of Hitler as a villain (more hate mail than any other episode triggered), it certainly fit into the category back then.
    • "I Am the NightóColor Me Black" is about the wrongful execution of a black man for a killing of a bigot in self-defense. The episode is clearly based on lynchings (and partially inspired by Emmett Till's death), features black men speaking from the voice of moral authority over white people, and heavily implies that many in the town don't care whether the man's guilty so long as they get to kill him. This episode aired in the final season in 1964, after the show's cancellation, and bare months before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Values Resonance: "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" supplies the page quote.
  • The Woobie: Many, many characters, usually the protagonist of any given episode unless they're an Asshole Victim.

The New Twilight Zone (2000s)

The Twilight Zone (pinball)

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