- Rod Serling: An old man and a hound dog named Rip, off for an evening's pleasure in quest of raccoon. Usually, these evenings end with one tired old man, one battle-scarred hound dog and one or more extremely dead raccoons, but as you may suspect, that will not be the case tonight. These hunters won't be coming home from the hill. They're headed for the backwoods of the Twilight Zone.
Air date: January 26, 1962
Hyder Simpson brings in wood for his wife Rachel and insists that his dog Rip come in with him, because the dog once saved his life. They sit down to supper and Hyder says he and Rip plan to go coon hunting. Rachel warns him not to, saying that she's seen several bad omens. Hyder disregards her warning and heads out that night. Rip goes after a coon and follows it into a lake with Hyder in hot pursuit. Rip doesn't come up and Hyder leaps in to save his beloved dog.
Come daybreak, Hyder wakes up by the side of the lake with Rip but no memory of what happened. As he's heading home, he passes Wesley and Tillman Miller as they dig a grave on his land. They ignore him and once he realizes they're burying a dog, he figures they're being silent out of respect. Hyder arrives home to find Rachel dressed in black. She ignores him and Rip and talks to Reverend Wood, who offers his condolences on Hyder's death. Rachel talks about how she asked Hyder not to go hunting a month ago but he ignored her warnings. Hyder looks on as the men come to take his coffin out and carry it to the graveyard.
Hyder follows them and comes across a fence he's never seen. He and Rip head down the road parallel to the fence and finally come to a gatehouse. The gatekeeper comes out and starts taking Hyder's information and asks how he died. Hyder insists he's alive but the Gatekeeper has him think back and Hyder finally realizes that he died. He looks down the road on the other side of the gate and the Gatekeeper describes Heaven. Rip starts to bark at the gate and Hyder wonders why he doesn't hear a heavenly choir. The Gatekeeper says he doesn't hear anything because he's on the outside and insists that he come in. However, when Hyder brings in Rip the Gatekeeper informs him that dogs aren't allowed in this heaven. There's a dog heaven down the road and the Gatekeeper promises to deliver Rip there. Hyder refuses to enter, insisting that if it's too fancy for Rip then it's too fancy for him. The Gatekeeper offers to break the rules and slip Rip through the fence to Hyder later, but Hyder insists on going through the front gate with his dog. The Gatekeeper offers to hold Rip while Hyder looks around and sees if he likes it, but Rip barks at the Gatekeeper and Hyder wonders how he'll coon hunt without Rip. The Gatekeeper informs him that coon hunting isn't allowed in Heaven, which decides Hyder, who heads down the road despite the Gatekeeper's warning that the road goes on to Eternity.
Hyder continues a bit down the road then sits down. He figures that Heaven must be filled with city folk if they don't allow coon hunting, but he plans to stay with Rip. He sees a young man approach. The man is the Messenger and says he's been sent to find Hyder and Rip. The first gate goes to Hell, and the Devil always tries right up to the last minute to get someone in his clutches. They don't allow dogs because they can smell the brimstone. They head down the road to a plain simple opening and the Messenger assures him there's coon hunting and square dancing in Heaven. The Messenger assures him that Rachel will be along directly and won't have any trouble with the Gatekeeper.
- Rod Serling: Travelers to unknown regions would be well-advised to take along the family dog. He could just save you from entering the wrong gate. At least, it happened that way once in a mountainous area of the Twilight Zone.
- An Aesop: Never abandon your dog, because it will never abandon you.
- Attending Your Own Funeral: When he returns home, Hyder finds that his wife Rachel, Reverend Wood and the Miller brothers are preparing to bury him. He sees his own coffin being taken outside. Unlike most applications of this trope, Hyder is actually dead and attends the burial as a spirit.
- Barred from the Afterlife: Hyder does this to himself. He's allowed into Heaven but he isn't allowed to take his dog with him. He decides that an afterlife without his dog is a fate worse than death (so to speak), so he refuses to enter and decides to just wander the path in between Heaven and Hell forever. Turns out that wasn't Heaven, it was Hell. Heaven allows dogs in.
- Comically Missing the Point: When the gatekeeper says that Rip can't enter, Hyder's first reaction is, "There ain't no fleas on that dog!"
- Dead All Along: Hyder and Rip. They die early in the episode, but it takes them until they're at the gates of the afterlife for it to sink in.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: All dogs are these. The devil can fool a man all he wants, but he can't fool a dog's nose.
- Exact Words: When Hyder asks the gatekeeper if he's Saint Peter, the latter doesn't actually deny or confirm whether he is — he just says that "I keep the gate, that's a fact"... which while not technically wrong, is still intended to mislead Hyder about his real identity.
- Faux Affably Evil: The gatekeeper. He's endlessly polite and reasonable; he only tries to talk Hyder out of leaving but never tries to physically stop him. He is also a demon who wants the guy he's talking to to be condemned to eternity in Hell.
- Genre Savvy: Downplayed. Hyder recalls stories of singing and dancing in Heaven and asks the gatekeeper why he can't hear any of that. He's easily convinced, though, when told he'll hear all that once he passes through the gate.
- God Is Good: While unseen, the Christian God is very forgiving and benevolent. Heaven is a paradise for everyone, not just a fluffy cloud world with singing; appearing as a pristine backcountry with coon hunts and square dances for the old woodsman. While practicing, good-natured Christians can get in no problem, God will allow tests to give people who weren't especially good or pious a chance to save their soul and get in. After which they'll send an angel that'll be nothing but jovial and talk to you like an old friend to escort you there. And yes, all dogs are more than welcome in heaven.
- Happily Married: Hyder and Rachel have had a very happy life together since their marriage almost 50 years earlier.
- Happily Ever After: Hyder and his beloved dog are dead, and Rachel is soon to follow, but they'll all be together in Heaven and free to do the things they love the most forever.
- Hats Off to the Dead: After the two men burying the dog Rip put his casket in the grave, they take off their hats as a gesture of respect to him.
- Hell of a Heaven: As far as Hyder's concerned, a Heaven where Rip isn't permitted in and there's no coon hunting allowed is no Heaven at all. Subverted in the end — that actually was Hell.
- Heroes Love Dogs: Hyder dies trying to save Rip and his soul is saved because of that same devotion.
- Honor Before Reason: To try to get Hyder to enter, the gatekeeper offers to sneak Rip in later. Hyder refuses on the grounds that he doesn't want his dog Rip to feel in any way unwelcome.
- Humble Hero: The angel. He even remarks he does have wings, but he prefers walking.
- Meaningful Name: Hyder's dog is named Rip, as in RIP. This foreshadows the revelation that the two of them have been Dead All Along.
- Mundane Afterlife: Hyder is happy to hear that the heaven he assumed was for fancy city-folk has coon hunting and square dancing.
- Pet the Dog: Hyder wants nothing to do with any place that would separate him from his faithful dog Rip.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Hyder remarks that his afterlife would've been hell without Rip by his side. The angel explains to him how right he actually was.
- Secret Test of Character: The false gatekeeper effectively serves as on; if Hyder had been willing to abandon Rip, he would have been tricked into Hell.
- Species-Specific Afterlife: Dogs cannot enter heaven according to the gatekeeper, as they have their own place "just up the road" where humans aren't allowed. This is what makes Hyder choose not to enter Heaven and head down the Eternity Road instead, as he decides he'd rather wander for eternity than enter heaven without his dog Rip. A good decision on his part, as the gatekeeper was lying; that wasn't actually Heaven.
- Together in Death: The angel assures Hyder and Rip that Rachel will soon join them in the afterlife, reuniting the happy family.
- Undying Loyalty: Hyder and Rip to each other. Hyder gives up his life to try and save Rip and then refuses his (supposed) eternal reward for Rip's sake. Rip, in turn, saves his master from eternal damnation even after their deaths.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Averted. The ending makes a point of saying Rachel won't fall victim to the false gatekeeper's trick, either.
- You Are Worth Hell: Hyder would rather wander eternally with his dog Rip that enter Heaven without him.