Follow TV Tropes


Funny / The Twilight Zone (1959)

Go To

The Twilight Zone has not been, in any of its incarnations, about making people laugh, but it has its moments:

  • Around the midway point of “Escape Clause”, the newly-immortal Walter Bedecker jumps in front of an oncoming subway train. The next scene has him making an insurance settlement on the incident. As the insurance representative leaves, he runs into one of his own co-workers, apparently there because Mr. Bedecker decided to jump in front of a bus on the very same day. Not only is the moment funny in and of itself, but it’s the perfect moment to cement just how much of an irredeemable Jerkass Bedecker is; he gains immortality via a Deal with the Devil, and the very first thing he decides to do with it is to milk it for all it’s worth.
  • The ending of "Night of the Meek" while heartwarming, also has Mr. Dundee and Officer Flaherty watching as Corwin flies away on Santa's sleigh. Both had been sharing a bottle of brandy that Corwin had given Dundee earlier, and the pair agreed they needed another swig or two.
    • Mr. Dundee in general, if only because it's hilarious to hear Piglet be such an asshole.
    • "Look, Mom, Santa's loaded!"
    • Before that, the same kid who points it out is the first to sit on Corwin's lap. He gives his name (Percival Smithers). And when Corwin asks what the boy would like for Christmas, the boy frankly responds "A new front name".
  • In "A Penny for Your Thoughts", the hero (played by Dick York, Darrin #1 on Bewitched) is testing out his newfound mindreading powers on the people he sees. He briefly pauses on a grinning pretty lady who is fondling a pile of money and giving off absolute silence. Need we mention that the pretty lady happens to be blonde?!
    • The hero overhears a Jerkass co-worker thinking unsavory things about a secretary, who our guy happens to like. The hero responds to this by pouring some water on him.
  • William Shakespeare punching out a Jerkass actor in "The Bard." May be even better when you realize the actor is a young Burt Reynolds, doing his best impression of a young Marlon Brando.
  • The show's attempts at 20 Minutes into the Future are sometimes unintentionally Hilarious in Hindsight.
  • Jack Elam's character in "Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?" steals the spotlight.
  • Advertisement:
  • The parrot in "Four O' Clock", who calls his owner, a Troll who harasses people he deems "evil", a nut.
  • The last scene of "A World of His Own". Rod Serling, usually an invisible narrator, is monologuing the outro, describing the story as "ridiculous nonsense" that could never really happen, when the main character (who is able to create fictional characters by describing them into a tape recorder and destroy them by burning the tape) gets upset at Rod, and puts a tape labelled "Rod Serling" onto the fire. Serling says "Well, that's the way it goes," and fades away. (seen here) What makes this really funny is that this was the first time on the series that Serling ever appeared on-screen in the show.
    • In a similar vein, in "The Midnight Sun", both main characters are surprised and startled when Rod Serling is doing his opening. The funniest part is that Rod is proceeding as usual without the women trying to say a word.
  • At the end of "A Most Unusual Camera", the way the French bellhop screams as he falls out the window sounds like it belongs more to someone being shot out of a catapult in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
  • "One For The Angels", where The Grim Reaper goes nuts buying ties and string from a pitch man.
    • Prior to this, Death played The Cat Came Back to the pitch-man upon learning he'd been duped... until some severe Mood Whiplash occurs.
    • The sales pitch is pretty funny, too, with the pitch-man throwing in all kinds of crazy promises, like offering to be the personal slave of anyone who buys his wares, and describing how the thread he's selling has to be carried by specially-trained birds across the Pacific Ocean, 832 crossings to add up to a single spool of thread. Which he's selling for a paltry 25-cents a spool.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Mood Whiplash in "The After Hours". In a seemingly short timespan, the mannequins go from scaring the crap out of Marsha, to making her realize that everything she thought about herself was a lie, to bidding fond and cheery farewells to the saleswoman mannequin as she goes to live among the humans for one month.
  • Many, many examples of the closing narration. Take "What's in the Box":
    The next time your TV set is on the blink, when you're in the need of a first-rate repairman, may we suggest our own specialist? Factory-trained, prompt, honest, twenty-four-hour service. You won't find him in the phone book, but his office is conveniently located — in the Twilight Zone.
  • "The Whole Truth". A stock dishonest car salesman is sold a car that makes him physically incapable of lying. Hilarity ensues, as does the end of the Cold War when he manages, by way of selective omission, to sell the Model A to Nikita Khrushchev.
  • "Once Upon a Time" is set in 1890 and 1962. And the 1890 segments are done as silent films.
    • And Woodrow Mulligan (Buster Keaton) spends most of the episode without pants.
      • At one point, he tries to get some pants, only for a tailor to ask for $5. After trying to grab his wallet, Keaton looks up in realization... hangs the pants back up, and quietly walks away.
      • And then later, when he just up and takes the pants, the tailor catches up to him and the professor, and merely holds out his hand.
    • Interestingly, the 1962 scenes showcase the same kind of physical acting and pacing of the 1890 scenes... just without the vaudeville piano. The lack of music during this (such as when Buster Keaton keeps setting off vacuum cleaners) manages to make these scenes all the more funny, if only for the cringe factor.
    • Special mention goes to the ending: Mulligan tries to do his janitor job as the professor bemoans living in 1890. Fed up ("This guy sounds worse than my mother-in-law."), Mulligan places the time helmet onto his head and sends him back to 1962, and then resumes his sweeping.
  • Many of the written statements made by Agnes, the Clingy Jealous Girl Troll Femme Fatale computer in "From Agnes, With Love". The whole episode is Actually Pretty Funny because the computer is trying to sabotage the main character's love life by suggesting he do things such as "be the dominant male", and the narrator at the end suggests that any future scientists should try to understand women before perfecting AI.
  • The ending of "The Fugitive" where the look on the faces of two aliens sent to retrieve their monarch when they see he has shapeshifted into a identical twin of the little girl who was his best friend on earth. The plaintive 'now that's not fair' one lets out just sells the whole thing.
    • During the opening, when Ben is playing "Martian" with Jenny and the boys, there's something adorably ridiculous about how the boys imitate the sound of laser guns with "Boin! Boin! Boin!"
  • The clown in "Five Characters In Search Of An Exit". Sometimes.
  • In general, many of the show's moments of cruel irony can also function as Black Comedy, such as the "broken eyeglasses" ending to "Time Enough at Last".
  • The conclusion of "Time Enough at Last" is funny to near-sighted people. No, not something that's barely an inconvenience! Anything but that!
    • Depends on how nearsighted they are. Blind Without 'Em isn't as common as fiction would have it, but it's not nonexistent, either.
  • When "The Masks" come off after midnight. The heirs are shocked to find that they don't have their original faces. Especially mortified by the transformation is Paula, who never met a mirror she didn't instantly fall in love with.
  • At least the heirs in "The Masks" saw an end to their initial suffering. "Uncle Simon" made sure his heir's suffering would be eternal. He set up the will precisely to use her greed against her. At the end of the episode, she's going into the kitchen to make some hot chocolate (his favorite drink) for his robot, just like she did with him at the start of the episode. She'll do anything to get her hands on his money — except that she's too headstrong to realize that (because the robot proves to need zero sleep and feel no pain) it's never happening!
    • The Flowery Insults the uncle and niece hurl at each other throughout the episode are also hilarious. Especially when the robot starts using them.
  • "Scott" the undercover alien's attempts acting like a biker in "Black Leather Jackets" can't help but get a laugh do to how utterly naive and awkward he is.
    Scott: Well, I understand a great deal about the constellations. That is the nature of galactic structures but... (Beat) I mean, I dig stars.
  • "The Chaser" gives us a part early in the episode where many people are waiting in line for the phone booth Roger is hogging in order to phone Leila. At one point, a man who is desperate to make a phone call decides he'll have to buy his way up front. He pays each waiting patron $10, one in particular being a woman who giddily takes the money. When he tries to buy off the old woman second in line, she says in a deadpan "Why should 3rd place be the same as the 1st? Twenty dollars."
  • "Miniature" has Charley happily watch the doll inside the museum dollhouse live out a lovely little life. ...Until he imagines her a boyfriend, which serves to make Charley so jealous, he presses his nose against the glass.
  • "Cavender is Coming":
    • Carol Burnett's character is pretty funny and pretty clumsy.
    Agnes: What's the signal for "I'm sorry"?
    • At the end of the episode, Cavender and his boss are watching her bowl. The boss asks if you're supposed to keep your fingers in the ball while it's rolling toward the pins.
  • "Sounds and Silences" is chalk-full of such moments, mostly having to do with Roswell hearing even the tiniest sounds as huge, cacophonous noises!
  • "Mr. Dingle, The Strong" is one of the series' few outright comedy episodes, with the the tone set by the opening scene featuring a man being bullied suddenly being interrupted by the arrival of a purposefully-campy-looking two-headed alien (as Serling intones: "And these two unseen gentlemen are visitors from outer space."). One of their first exchanges of dialogue upon arriving:
    Alien 1: You sure we're invisible?
    Alien 2: Beyond any doubt.
    Alien 1: I wish they were.
  • "The Mind & the Matter": After reading a book, main character Archibald Beechcroft concentrates hard enough to render himself the only person in New York City. After being thoroughly bored by being the only person in town, he then mentally changes the world to that it would be filled with people exactly like him, personality and all. Because he's a perpetual grouch, everyone he meets in his office building acts exactly like him. This scene is made even funnier since they're all played by the same actor, even a woman in the office elevator.



How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: