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Fridge / The Twilight Zone (1959)

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Fridge Brilliance

  • I have always had an interpretation of "He's Alive" that few people (as far as I know) have contemplated. As the spoilerized know, the ghost of Adolf Hitler directs the protagonist to become his ideological heir and start a new Nazi movement. But I never thought it was Hitler talking to the protagonist, especially after his famous line of "I invented darkness." Who could literally claim the mantle of inventor of darkness, who could appear in a form that the protagonist would be drawn to and offer limitless power? Satan.
    • Another moment of fridge brilliance from the episode. By the end, Peter is convinced he's "All steel; no softness, no weakness." Only when the police finally come down on him he breaks. As much as he claims to be without softness, one of steel's important points is that it is relatively able to flex and move in order to carry heavy loads. Peter has no idea what steel's true strength is, just like how he has no idea just how vital sentiment and kindness are to a man.
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  • Why is the military covering up the crash in "The Parallel"? Because if they released the truth, that the ship crash landed completely intact after losing all contact, nobody would believe them and assume an even bigger coverup.
  • In "Five Characters in Search of an Exit", there's one scene where the Army major tries to get out of the cylindrical room by stabbing the wall with his saber, and the saber breaks like a twig. Now, the first time you see that episode, it gives you the impression that the wall is made out of some super-durable metal (lending credence to the Ballerina's theory that the characters are trapped in an alien spaceship). Then you find out the Twist Ending... Of course the sword snapped with one blow—the major was a doll, so his sword was made of cheap plastic.
  • At first it seemed weird to me that despite having no memory and only the most archetypical of personalities the characters in "Five Characters In Search of an Exit" still retain some skills; the bagpipe player can still play bagpipes and the Ballerina can still dance. Put when it is revealed that the characters are all children's dolls it makes perfect sense. They have the skills because those skills are the defining characteristics of their roles, their backstories and personalities have to come from the children who play with them.
  • The Russian woman's behavior and aggression towards the American man in "Two," despite that he's long given up on fighting, makes an unfortunate degree of sense. First of all, a lifetime's worth of training isn't easily broken, and he is dressed in enemy colors. Second, the Language Barrier. Third? He's bigger, stronger, and played by Charles Bronson. Rape is an unfortunately common war crime, and she may have already been on the receiving end of it.
    • There is a subtle scene where Bronson looks at a girlie calendar and then at the female soldier, which implies that the idea of raping her briefly entered his mind, but he just isn't the type to do that for real.
  • Dave from "The New Exhibit" seemed to play a very minor role, as all he did was give Emma the idea to turn off the air conditioner that led to her death. Why was he in the episode then? If you go with the theory that Martin killed Emma, Dave, and Ferguson and just imagined that the wax figures killed them, that means he would've killed 3 people total classifying him as a Serial Killer which would rightly give him a place at the ending as a figure in the museum with other serial killers. If he had only killed 2 people, he wouldn't have been classified as a serial killer and the ending might not have worked so well.
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  • Whenever Douglas Winter is approached by Mr. Smith in "Printer's Devil", there are two common elements at play: Desperation and alcohol. One leading to the other, both into terrible decisions.
  • Especially given how long she'd been waiting on him and why, "Uncle Simon" must have been fully and completely aware of his niece's habits and motivations for his will to be detailed as it was read to her. It's a textbook example of the Batman Gambit; he's made completely sure that the state university will inherit his money and property in full, without having to do anything, while Barbara is doing all the dirty work for nothing but more misery and headaches.
  • At the end of "Will the real Martian please stand up?", Ross doesn't know what the word "wet" means. It's reasonable why: either he hasn't heard the term yet during his time on Earth, or Martians, hailing from a dry planet, don't have an equivalent to it in their language.

Fridge Horror

  • "The Odyssey of Flight 33" is this and more, because the people will forever remain in another time period, forever searching for a way out and their loved ones never know what happened to them. The fact that the captain tells his passengers this is also horrifying, too.
  • "A Nice Place to Visit" adds a substantial Oh, Crap! to the ending of "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine".
  • The episode "And When the Sky Was Opened" involves three men slowly disappearing from existence. It's never explained exactly why, but it's implied that someone or something that controls the universe accidentally let the men survive a space ship crash when they were supposed to die. To compensate for this mistake, this unknown force corrects destiny by erasing the three men and everyone's memory of them completely from reality. The thought of being erased from existence was already a terrifying idea to This troper. I just realized though that if something like this story happened in real life, there would be no way for any of us to know about it. You or I could have had a best friend for our entire lives who was wiped from existence the same way as the men in the episode, and nobody would realize it or be able to prove it.
  • In the episode "A Nice Place To Visit", Rocky Valentine, after spending the first few days in his personal paradise in the afterlife which is really an Ironic Hell, asks his spirit guide, Pip, how a thug like him managed to get into such a nice place, figuring that 'this place' would be more for schoolteachers or something. To which Pip says, "Oh, we have a few schoolteachers here." Let that sink in for a minute; at the time the episode aired (1960), schoolteachers were considered altruistic and number 3 on the list of adults that children could automatically trust, behind police and their own parents. The idea that there could be corrupt, evil schoolteachers would be Nightmare Fuel to some viewers.
  • The implications of being trapped in a frozen moment of time for all eternity is where the real horror of "A Kind of Stopwatch" lies. Not even McNulty deserved that!
  • The ending of "Caesar and Me," where Caesar convinces Susan to run off with him. In addition to the fact that the little girl implicitly agreed to kill her grandma, there's just something off about how Caesar, a dummy with the personality of a grown man, is offering to take a little girl to see the city, as well as the likelihood that the two would resort to crime as a way to make money. Susan may have been a brat, but that whole set-up can be easily seen as the beginning of a Break the Cutie scenario...
  • In the episode "Living Doll", Talky Tina says "you better be nice to me!" after she murders Erich, which implies her motives are selfish and she didn't do it to protect Christie. It's impossible to get rid of or destroy Tina, so Christie's stuck with a vindictive, homicidal magic doll, possibly forever. So...what happens to Christie if she gets a new favorite toy, or when she starts outgrowing dolls?
    • Speaking of "Living Doll", pay close attention to Erich and Annabelle's behavior throughout the whole episode in addition to his behavior to Christie. Erich is passive-aggressive while Annabelle is pleading and begging him to stop. Looks quite a bit like emotional abuse, doesn't it?
    • Another theory on the doll. One of the theories about poltergeists and similar paranormal activity is that of a child or adolescent suppressing their emotions and their subconscious lashing out in rage with telekinesis. Take a child with an emotionally abusive stepfather (who is a jerk to both her and her mom), and a focus for channeling all that suppressed anger (bonus is that the doll and the girl have the same name), and Christie may have been the one who controlled the doll all along...but not even known it.
  • The angel in "The Hunt" says that the gatekeeper of Hell is always trying to get innocent people to go into hell. How many have?
    • This is made even worse by how Hyder only avoided Hell because Rip died at the exact same time as him and was able to travel to the afterlife with him. To this troper, that seems like a very unlikely coincidence, especially when considering the average lifespans of humans and dogs.
    • Hyder was established as not much of a church-goer or excessively kindly man, meaning that The Powers That Be were still deciding on where he ought to go. The dog was his best buddy and cherished companion. Leaving his dog behind to go to Paradise or trying to sneak the dog through the back door would have established him as not worthy of eternal reward. Putting his foot down and saying "not without my dog" established him as willing to sacrifice his own comfort to keep his dog company. The whole thing was likely a Secret Test of Character.
    • For all we know, the "dog" in the episode is a construct of Hyder's worthiness-for-Heaven test. The actual Rip may have outlived his master by a good margin, only to join him in paradise at a later time.
    • A chilling alternate take on the ending: Hyder has shown that there's something he'd rather have than God. That IS the essence of damnation!
  • The episode "I am the Night- Color me Black" is full of this. The sun doesn't rise over a town on the day of an innocent man's execution. It remains pitch black well into the afternoon. Still, the whole town turns out to watch. He says he'll gladly give them a show, but not the satisfaction of his apology. After his hanging, the town's reverend realizes what the darkness is: hate. The hate they felt toward him, the hate he felt toward them, all of it coming up and choking them all. The same thing happens in many other places filled with hate around the world, including Alabama, the Berlin Wall, Shanghai, a political prison in Budapest and all of North Vietnam. These areas will more than likely freeze over without any sunlight. Worse, since the cause is human emotion, it doesn't matter where refugees might go; as along as someone hates someone else, the darkness will follow. In a time like the 1960s, when the Cold War was at its height, it could grow to cover the whole world.
    • Which, given Serling's beliefs, was entirely the point.
  • Not so much horrific as depressing in "The Fever": Franklin was at the dollar slot machine for over five hours. Given a pull every five seconds and a mean 133% payout (not counting losses) over an hour, it's safe to say he lost around $3,600. That's around $28,000 in 2016 money. Also, figuring an average household income of $7,000 per year, that's over six months of pay. As the Gibbs were implied to be retirees, that would have probably ruined them.
    • A bit of Fridge Brilliance as well, showing how for every lucky guy who hits the machine's $10,000 jackpot, there's probably six or more guys who provided the money (giving the casino 10k in profit as well).
    • This episode shows exactly how casinos make their money. A man who plays, and loses, will move on. However, if a man wins, he begins to believe it will happen again, just as long as he keeps at it. This deceptive trick has made the casinos billions over the years... and has ruined countless lives.
    • The manager also tells him, "Remember, you have unlimited credit," implying that any betting he does is part of the prize his wife won. In reality, it just means that the casino would cash his checks (or other markers) and he's out the money instead.
    • Also, there's a good chance Mrs. Gibbs is going to be suffering from survivor's guilt, as she was so gung-ho about the Las Vegas vacation in the first place.
  • "Perchance to Dream" becomes a lot scarier and sadder when you realize there are people out there with heart conditions that can easily kill them due to sudden shocks.
  • "To Serve Man": the Kanamits say that they have brought their "gift" to many civilizations — now think about all those episodes where people think they are the last people on Earth, or some other planet...
  • What's going to happen to the couple in "Stopover in a Quiet Town"? The same thing that happened to the squirrel?
  • There's one in "A Piano in the House": While Fitzgerald is having fun embarrassing his guests, he decides to play a song "to bring out the devil" but Esther quickly changes it to Brahms' "Lullaby". What would've happened if Esther hadn't thought quickly or even worse, if Fitzgerald stopped her from doing so?
  • Gunter Lütze's fate is already horrifying, but do remember one thing: we only saw the tip of the ice burg. There's thousands more things he experienced we didn't see. For all intents and purposes, Lütze experienced a painful, agonizing death thousands of times. No wonder it drove him completely insane. Of course, every single one of those was a death he himself personally inflicted while enjoying every minute of it, which is Fridge Horror of its own.
  • One of the sticking bits in "The Encounter" was that Arthur's father was allegedly a traitor at Pearl Harbor. The reality was that there were no traitors, even though it was a common conspiracy theory at the time. But Arthur was four years old at the time, too young to really comprehend what was happening. And like the fellow who played him, he was probably shipped to an interment camp during the war. His father was likely falsely accused by fellows looking for an easy scapegoat, and was never able to disprove them, meaning Arthur believed the accusation, even though it was baseless.
  • Another brilliance bit from "The Encounter" - We have a Fenton, a stockier white veteran with PTSD, who has consumed a fair amount of alcohol even before Arthur arrives. Arthur is lighter in build, weighs less, and is more likely than Fenton to have a genetic mutation that makes alcohol hit him harder. So, add liquor, weapons, and a stuck door, and it's a tailor-made setup for alcohol-fueled tragedy.

Fridge Logic

  • How did Henry Bemis know he was the last person on the planet if he never even left the city? For all he knew, it might have just been his town that was vaporized. And on top of that, Henry Bemis couldn't have been the only person on earth who was inside a bank vault or some kind of shelter at the time...there may have been other survivors too!
    • He doesn't, but that's not really the point. He's the sole survivor of at least his sector of the city, and given how absolutely cruel everyone else depicted has been to him, once he recognizes he's alone and happier that way, he has absolutely no interest in confirming whether or not he's the last person on Earth. He's got food, books, and easy access to shelter so all of his particular needs are met; as far as he cares, he's "the last man on Earth" and he likes that just fine.
  • "Five Characters in Search of an Exit": A clown, a soldier, a bagpipe-player, a ballerina and a hobo. Who donates a hobo doll to a little girls' charity, particularly in the 1960s?
    • It could just be a male doll of a destructive child or pet to ruin the clothes of?
      • Such characters were modestly popular in entertainment at the time, including children's entertainment.
  • "It's a Good Life": Ok, so Anthony is a godlike child with the ability to turn people's lives upside down..but why don't they just shoot him? It's not like they weren't capable, they could've just shot him when his back was turned or something. He isn't omnipotent, per se.
    • He's not omnipotent but he is telepathic and can sense when someone is thinking bad thoughts especially about him. "Let's shoot the kid" would definitely qualify as a bad thought. You'd have to be really quick.
    • It's not revealed whether he can still read minds while asleep, so offing him then also might have been an option. That is, assuming he does sleep.
    • I was always under the impression that Anthony, a being who was able to eradicate the existence of an entire planet beyond his own town, as well as the ability to telepathically read anyone's mind any time he wants regardless of where they are, would be considered an omnipotent force. Rod does mention that the people in Peakesville must always think happy thoughts, which would imply that it doesn't matter you are or where Anthony is, he can tell what you're thinking at any given time. If you even begun the makings of a plot to off Anthony, you'd be sent to the cornfield before you could even grab a weapon. Certainly, somebody must've tried before it got to the point we see in the show. Even at the end, it's hard to say whether or not turning on Anthony then would've worked given what he could've done to any of them, tragically enough.
      • The episode and it's sequel don't back the idea of Anthony constantly reading everyone's mind up, regardless of what Rod says in the intro. The drunk guy was no doubt thinking bad thoughts about Anthony, but Anthony only reacted when he began talking. And while drunk, he suggests killing Anthony with a fire poker, and another character grabs it as if it might work (though to be fair, neither was probably thinking straight at the time.) And in the sequel episode, people explicitly discuss killing Anthony when he's not around, and a man tries to hit Anthony in the back of the head, and Anthony doesn't react until his also-powered daughter banished the man, also suggesting an plotted ambush will work.
    • There's also the fact that, so far as Peakesville's people can tell, it may only be Anthony's willpower that's keeping their town from disappearing as well. In the short story, it's explicitly stated that nobody in town is sure if Anthony'd destroyed the rest of the Earth or if he'd moved the town to some other dimension or pocket universe. Either way, their only hope is for Anthony to live long enough to become sufficiently mature to develop a sense of responsibility, because if he dies, their town's unnatural preservation will no longer be maintained.
  • In "Escape Clause," Walter Bedeker sells his soul to the devil and gains immortality. He confesses to murdering his wife in the hopes of trying out the electric chair, for the thrill of it, but his lawyer manages to just get him life in prison. Walter opts to use his escape clause and simply ask the devil to kill him, rather than spend thousands of years in prison. It never occurs to him that, after a few decades, someone's bound to notice that he isn't aging. While that in itself might have a bad outcome (human guinea pig, perhaps?), it wouldn't do him any harm to wait around to see what happened.
    • For that matter, he could have fired his lawyer.
    • Or, as it's clear he has no qualms about killing, simply overpowered his jail guards and strode out the exit, shrugging off gunfire and taking a hostage if he needs something open. That would loop right back into Fridge Horror however; a man willing to murder to get a thrill, totally immortal, wandering the countryside as just another hobo—and even something like a sustained artillery barrage or even a nuclear missile might not kill him.
    • I think that's why the Devil came to him in the first place: the guy had no imagination and thus made for an easy mark
  • In "A Nice Place to Visit" Henry Valentine comes up with the pretty good idea to get around the dullness of his Ironic Hell by staging his own awesome heist which he could still fail at to make it challenging, which is basically making your own GTA in real life which would have been great, but he immediately decides against it and instead decides he'd rather just go to hell. Cue Twist Ending.
    • This was long before video games were invented. People back then would probably assume that such an idea would feel about as real as children playing make-believe.
    • In Grand Theft Auto, you're actually playing — it's a genuine test of your skill that can lead to success or failure depending on how well you do. You don't get to tell the game at the beginning to make sure you win. Even if Rocky literally had a video game to play in this setting, he would win every time, which would get boring just like winning the casino games every time did (and, as he concludes, having Pip make him lose sometimes wouldn't help because it still wouldn't be real). The problem isn't the bank robbery scenario wouldn't be a real robbery — it's that the risk and test and skill involved wouldn't be real. There's no market for any kind of game that guarantees you win every time (or even where you get to determine how often you'll win and lose).

Alternative Title(s): The Twilight Zone


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