When Rod Serling came up with The Twilight Zone (1959), he couldn't have known that he was creating not only his masterpiece, but a multi-media franchise that would endure for decades after his untimely death.
The Twilight Zone maintains a prominent place in pop culture. The original series is the Trope Codifier for the Genre Anthology. Its title and theme music underwent Memetic Mutation long before the term existed. Rod Serling's distinctive delivery as The Narrator, and his on-screen hosting, have been spoofed and homaged countless times. The better-known Twist Endings ("Time Enough at Last", "The Eye of the Beholder", "To Serve Man") have reached It Was His Sled status. The stories and themes presented by Serling and his fellow creators have proven strong enough to support three revivals of the TV series, a movie, a radio adaptation, a pinball game, merchandise such as action figures and prop reproductions, even a Disney theme park ride. It's been a huge influence on pretty much every anthology series that followed it, including its Spiritual Successor Night Gallery, which was also hosted and largely written (but not creatively controlled) by Serling, though that series focused primarily on supernatural and horror tales, rather than the fantasy and science fiction featured in Twilight Zone.
Here's a list of The Twilight Zone's various iterations, including the versions that have pages on This Very Wiki.
Works and creators associated with The Twilight Zone franchise (with TV Tropes articles):
- The Twilight Zone (1959). The show that started it all. It aired on CBS from 1959 to 1964.
- The Twilight Zone (1985). The first TV revival. It aired on CBS from 1985 to 1987, then was Un-Cancelled for a season of First-Run Syndication in 1988-1989 so it would have enough episodes to run as a daily strip.
- The Twilight Zone (2002). The second TV revival, which ran during the 2002-2003 season on UPN.
- The Twilight Zone (2019). A 2019 revival aired on CBS All Access, executive produced and hosted by Jordan Peele. Cancelled after its second season in 2020.
- Twilight Zone: The Movie. The first revival in any medium. Released in 1983, it features remakes of original episodes directed by Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller, plus a new story written and directed by John Landis. Best remembered for three actors being killed during the filming of Landis' segment.
- Tower of Terror. A Made-for-TV Movie based on the Disney Theme Parks ride listed below. A Divorced Installment that never mentions its Twilight Zone connection.
- "The Cold Equations". Filmed for the syndicated season of the 1980s series.
- "The Howling Man". Filmed for the original series.
- "It's a Good Life". Made into one of the original series' best-remembered episodes, then remade for The Movie. The UPN revival produced a sequel episode, "It's Still a Good Life", with Bill Mumy reprising his role as the protagonist Anthony Fremont.
- "Little Girl Lost". Made into one of the original series episodes and an inspiration for Poltergeist.
- "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge". Filmed as a French short film which was re-edited into an episode of the original series.
- Rod Serling. Creator, host, and pre-eminent writer of the original series.
- Richard Matheson. Veteran sci-fi/horror writer who scripted sixteen original episodes, many of which were adapted from his own short stories.
- Ray Bradbury. A major influence on Serling, who gave him a Shout-Out in both "Walking Distance" and "A Stop at Willoughby". He adapted his own story "I Sing the Body Electric" for the original series, and the 1980s series adapted his stories "The Burning Man" and "The Elevator".
- Harlan Ellison. Writer and creative consultant for the 1980s series.
- George R. R. Martin. Wrote several episodes for the 1980s series.
- Stephen King. The 1980s series adapted his story "Gramma".
- Robert Silverberg. The 1980s series adapted his story "To See the Invisible Man".
- J. Michael Straczynski. Writer and story editor for the 1980s series.
- Forest Whitaker. Host of the 2002-2003 series.
- Jordan Peele. Host and narrator of the 2019 revival.
- Theodore Sturgeon. The 1980s series adapted his stories "Yesterday Was Monday" and "A Saucer of Loneliness".
- See also The Twilight Zone Actors.
Works in The Twilight Zone franchise (without their own pages):
- Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's Lost Classics: A 1994 film co-produced by Rod Serling's widow Carol Serling, who found some old stories written by Rod in a trunk in the family's garage. James Earl Jones was the host and narrator. The film had two segments:
- The Theatre: A woman goes to the theater, but the screen shows events from her own life.
- Where the Dead Are: Set a few years after The American Civil War, a doctor discovers his colleague has found a way to bring the dead back to life.