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 Pages:
- 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.
- 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.
- Rod Serling. Creator, host, and pre-eminent writer of the original series.
- Richard Matheson. Veteran sci-fi/horror writer who scripted many original episodes.
- Ray Bradbury. A major influence on Serling, who gave him a Shout-Out in "Walking Distance". 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.
See also The Twilight Zone Actors.
- An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
- The Howling Man
- 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.
- Little Girl Lost. Made into one of the original series episodes and an inspiration on Poltergeist.
- The Cold Equations. Filmed for the syndicated season of the 1980s series.
Works in the Twilight Zone Franchise Without TV Tropes Pages:
The Twilight Zone has had Comic Book Adaptations from four different publishers (including Gold Key Comics and Dynamite Comics) through the years. The Gold Key version, which began when the original series was still on the air and continued into the early 1980s, was by far the longest running. An artistic rendition of Rod Serling introduced each story as he did on TV, becoming technically a Posthumous Character after Serling died in 1975, but the drawn Serling continued to "host" the comic book.
- Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's Lost Classics: A 1994 film co-produced by Rod Serling's widow Carol Serling, who supposedly 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.
The Twilight Zone has been the subject of many books. Some of the episodes have been adapted as short stories and novels by various authors (including Rod Serling himself). Anthologies of short stories adapted for the series have been published. The Twilight Zone Companion, Marc Scott Zicree's 1982 history of the series, became a best seller and is still in print. A second history, Martin Grams, Jr.'s The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic, appeared in 2008.
Between 1981 and 1989, The Twilight Zone Magazine published new short fiction in the same Science Fiction, Horror and Urban Fantasy genres as the show, including stories by prominent writers like Stephen King and Harlan Ellison. It also covered contemporary Speculative Fiction series and movies.
Since 2002, The Twilight Zone has been a Radio Drama series. It's adapted all of the original episodes, as well as unfilmed premises for the original series. It's even created several original stories.
The original series had a board game.
Anne Washburn's The Twilight Zone is a stage play that weaves adaptations of eight TOS episodes into a unified storyline.
Two toy companies, Sideshow and Bif Bang Pow!, have made action figures (and in Bif Bang Pow!'s case, other merchandise) based on the show.