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Creator / Rod Serling

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"The immediate motive at the time—the prodding thing that pushed me into it—was that I'd been writing for a Cincinnati television station as a staff writer—which is a particularly dreamless occupation—composed of doing commercials, even making up [...] testimonial letters. As I recall there was a drug, a liquid drug on the market at the time that could cure everything from arthritis to a fractured pelvis, and I actually had to write testimonial letters. And then that particular day I just had it. And though I had been freelancing concurrent with the staff job, the best year I'd ever had I think we netted about $700. Which is hardly even grocery money. And that one night we just decided to, you know, sink-or-swim and go into it."
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Picture, if you will, an ordinary man, just like any other gifted young American student before the outbreak of the war. This man enlists to serve his country, but as a paratrooper, he sees things no man was meant to see.

This man is Rodman Edward Serling (December 25, 1924 – June 28, 1975).

Put through college on the GI Bill, this man becomes a well-known scriptwriter. But at night, in his dreams, the war revisits him. His visions become ever stranger, ever more disturbing. They drive him to create, and thrust himself into... The Twilight Zone.


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Created and narrated:

Also created:

  • The Loner (short-lived CBS Western series, 1965-66)

Also narrated:

Also hosted:

  • The 1969 version of the Game Show Liars Club

Writing credits include:

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Tropes associated with Rod Serling include:

  • Acceptable Targets: Invoked. While most of his villains are justified, sympathetic or even somewhat likable Serling had no tolerance for Nazis, racists, and totalitarians.
  • Alan Smithee: Serling wrote the pilot for The New People (which he did not create) under the name "John Phillips" because he objected to how the finished product turned out.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: While he was never particularly religious and converted to Unitarianism when he married, Serling kept and respected various Jewish traditions and felt a special connection to his works that involved Jews or the Holocaust.
  • Anti-Hero: His heroes tended to have personal flaws.
  • Author Tract: His anti-war and liberal political views often influenced his work.
  • Downer Ending/Bittersweet Ending: His protagonists survive less often than they die in many of his stories.
  • Fair for Its Day/Values Resonance: Many of his views come across as this today.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Practically embodies this trope, since he introduces and closes on every episode of The Twilight Zone (1959) and Night Gallery.
  • Posthumous Character: Gold Key Comics began publishing a comic book based upon The Twilight Zone in the early 1960s. Not only did the comic book outlive the original TV series by many years, it outlived Serling himself, too, continuing to publish into the early 1980s - with the comic book version of Serling continuing to introduce each story.
  • '70s Hair: The transition from the 1960s Twilight Zone into the 1970s Night Gallery saw Serling grow his hair out and adopt sideburns.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: His service during World War Two led to him having nightmares.
  • Villain Protagonist: Often used when he needed unsympathetic characters. Two episodes of The Twilight Zone even had a Nazi for a protagonist.
  • Write What You Know: His script The Velvet Alley is considered to essentially be Serling writing about how his life had changed after going to Hollywood.


They say life is but a whisper, leaving just as quickly as it arrives. This man was killed not by machines of humanity, nor by acts of nature, nor by seeking seclusion within the recesses and infinities of his mind...but by a faulty heart, which removed him from the coil of mortality while men of medicine tried valiantly to keep him from that fate.

Since the twenty-eighth day of June in the year nineteen hundred and seventy-five, this man has led a new life inside the world he created. He takes pride in those who tell new tales, and by request will walk into the spotlight to give an appropriate spiel at each beginning and end.

Rodman Edward Serling, a man who cannot leave his own little world yet takes this fact as comfort, living out a pleasant eternity...in The Twilight Zone.

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