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Recap / The Twilight Zone S5E124 "A Kind of a Stopwatch"

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Patrick McNulty, about to stop the world.

Rod Serling: Submitted for your approval, or at least your analysis: one Patrick Thomas McNulty, who, at age forty-one, is the biggest bore on Earth. He holds a ten-year record for the most meaningless words spewed out during a coffee break. And it's very likely that, as of this moment, he would have gone through life in precisely this manner, a dull, argumentative bigmouth who sets back the art of conversation a thousand years. I say he very likely would have except for something that will soon happen to him, something that will considerably alter his existence — and ours. Now you think about that now, because this is the Twilight Zone.

Air date: October 18, 1963

Patrick Thomas McNulty is a person who, simply put, almost nobody really likes. He has put ideas in the suggestion box at work that have nothing to do with his job, he regularly drives other patrons out of the local bar, and talks the ear off of anyone who's enough of a sucker to sit still for it. But one day at the bar an old man gives him a stopwatch that he learns can freeze time. He tries to show its abilities off to other people, but his manner of doing so consistently fails to impress them (he can't seem to get his head around the idea that they can't see what he's doing when they're frozen). A sudden brainwave strikes, and he decides to use the watch's power to carry out a crime — but while he's at the bank, carting money out of the vault, he drops the watch...


Rod Serling: Mr. Patrick Thomas McNulty, who had a gift of time. He used it and he misused it, and now he's just been handed the bill. Tonight's tale of motion and McNulty in the Twilight Zone.

"A Kind of a Stopwatch" contains examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: Subverted. No one is aware of when time freezes save for McNulty.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The stopwatch could stop trains, subways, and goldfish.
  • 0% Approval Rating: Patrick McNulty. Nobody really likes him.
  • Catchphrase: McNulty's is "Now you think about that, now." Rod Serling says it himself in his opening narration.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Averted, McNulty tries to make money off the stopwatch, but due to having given dozens of pointless ideas in the past, his former boss quickly rejects it.
  • Downer Ending: The episode ends with McNulty dropping and breaking the stopwatch while robbing a bank, leaving McNulty trapped in a frozen timeless world forever. All we can do is hope he found a way to repair the watch and unfreeze time again.
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  • Ignored Epiphany: The bartender Joe Palucci gives one such advice to McNulty that "Being noticed and being liked are two different things". When the latter dismisses it with "Ah what do you know", Joe makes another point about how McNulty chases away people every time they do notice him. Again, McNulty shrugs it off without fail.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: McNulty admits his pointless ideas are because he just wants recognition, as pointed out by Joe it does get him recognition though not the good kind.
  • Jerkass: Pretty much everyone in the episode save for Potts, the drunken man who gives McNulty the stopwatch.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Of the Harsher in Hindsight variety. 50 years later, Patrick McNulty's point about businesses needing to diversify to stay alive would ring true with specialized businesses falling out of favor to more diversified business (case in point with Toys R Us going out of business to more diverse stores like Target and Wal-Mart).
  • Motor Mouth: McNulty. Everything that comes out his mouth is a never-ending plethora of trivial ideas, peppered with "You think about that, now". Deconstructed as the reason most everyone hates him.
  • Oh, Crap!: McNulty has this reaction when finds the watch has broken from the fall and cannot unfreeze time again.
  • Only Friend: Downplayed example. While Joe the bartender openly hates McNulty like everyone else, he's the only person in the episode who isn't outright hostile towards him and actually can hold a normal conversation with him.
  • Relationship Reveal: At the end when Patrick McNulty desperately searches for someone who can move, his ex-coworker and former boss are seen making out in his office.
  • Spiritual Successor: Click takes heavy influence from this episode.
  • Time-Freeze Trolling Spree: After being fired from Cooper Corporation, McNulty returns to his former workplace with the stopwatch and uses it to pull pranks such as placing flowers in his former boss Mr. Cooper's shirt and breast pocket. He later uses it in Joe Palucci's bar to mess up Charlie's hair and finish off several patrons' beers. McNulty finally realizes that the stopwatch can make him extremely rich and robs the United Fidelity Bank. However, as he is leaving the bank, he accidentally drops the watch, breaking it and leaving him trapped in the frozen time forever.
  • Time Stands Still: The stopwatch has the ability to freeze time for everyone except the person who holds it.

You see those tropes up there. Now you think about them, now.

Alternative Title(s): The Twilight Zone S 5 E 124 A Kind Of Stopwatch


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