- Rod Serling: These are the players, with or without a scorecard: in one corner, a machine; in the other, one Wallace V. Whipple, man. And the game? It happens to be the historical battle between flesh and steel, between the brain of man and the product of man's brain. We don't make book on this one and predict no winner, but we can tell you that, for this particular contest, there is standing room only in the Twilight Zone.
In 1967, Wallace V. Whipple, owner of a vast manufacturing corporation, decides to upgrade his plant to increase output by installing a machine named the "X109B14 modified transistorized totally automated machine", which leads to layoffs as more and more employees are replaced by robots or computers. Some former employees try to convince him that the value of a man outweighs the value of a machine, but their protests fall on deaf ears.
Eventually, the board of directors find him neurotically obsessed with machines and retire him. Whipple joins his former plant manager, replaced by another computer earlier, at the bar opposite his factory and expresses deep sorrow at his misfortune ("It isn't fair, Hanley! It isn't fair the way they...diminish us"), now that a robot runs his office.
- Rod Serling: There are many bromides applicable here — too much of a good thing; tiger by the tail; as ye sow, so shall ye reap. The point is that too often, man becomes clever instead of becoming wise, he becomes inventive but not thoughtful — and sometimes, as in the case of Mr. Whipple, he can create himself right out of existence. Tonight's tale of oddness and obsolescence from the Twilight Zone.
The Trope Center at Whipples:
- Alliterative Name: The protagonist's name is Wallace V. Whipple.
- Bald of Evil: Although in Whipple's case, it's more like Bald of Jerkass.
- Became Their Own Antithesis: Whipple starts out cold and without empathy. Later, after he's fired, he becomes just as humanly devastated as the very people he's fired, going into a poignant, raw spiel about the worth and value of a man.
- Break the Haughty: What happens to Whipple in the end.
- The Cameo: Robbie the Robot appears at the very end of the episode, during Serling's closing monologue, as the new CEO of the Whipple Manufacturing Plant.
- Character Tic: Whipple likes to twirl his watch fob when he's thinking. The robot who takes over his job does the same thing (though what a robot needs with a pocket watch is anyone's guess).
- Chromosome Casting: This episode does not feature any women.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Wallace V. Whipple.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Whipple's dedication to efficiency and his machinery winds up getting him efficiency-ed out of his own job.
- Informed Wrongness: Despite the societal context in which this episode was produced, the fact remains that Whipple is enacting a tech-savvy business model that will prove to be the wave of the future sixty years hence. The episode can only assert that he's a monster because keeping hundreds of thousands of people on the payroll unnecessarily would make him a nice fellow.
- Job-Stealing Robot: The plot of the episode.
- Laser-Guided Karma: At the end of the episode, Wallace Whipple suffers karmic justice as he himself is replaced by a robot.
- Master Computer: X109B14 takes over the operation of Whipple's factory.
- Pet the Dog: Whipple promises Hanley a significant pension and severance pay after firing him. Downplayed, as from Hanley's point of view, this severance pay is cold comfort for the fact that not only did he shoot Dickerson in cold blood, but Whipple is essentially throwing Hanley under the bus to replace him with a robot. Needless to say, Hanley rejects both the pension and the severance pay.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Whipple is such an overwhelmingly unlikable person that he receives three of these before he finally gets a clue.
- Shout Out: The Grunge/Alternative Metal band Melvins has a song named after this episode.
- Speak Ill of the Dead: Downplayed. While Whipple doesn't outright insult his late father, he points out that his father's "good will" wasn't as "efficient" as his own approach at business.
- 20 Minutes into the Future: The episode is set in 1967, three years after it was filmed.
- World of Ham: As Mark Scott Zicree says in The Twilight Zone Companion, there are two kinds of characters in this episode: those who make speeches and those who make speeches while gesticulating. In particular, Ted de Corsia (as Dickerson) gives a speech to Whipple that, to refer to it as "scenery chewing", would be an extreme understatement. "I'M A MAAAAAAAANNNNN, MR. WHIPPLE!!!!!!"