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Series / The Twilight Zone (2002)

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The second TV revival of The Twilight Zone (1959), this series aired on UPN during the 2002-03 season. It aired in hour-long installments, with two half-hour episodes run back-to-back, the only exception being the one-hour episode "The Lineman." Forest Whitaker was the on-camera host.


Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Craig's father in "Azoth The Avenger Is A Friend Of Mine", a rageaholic, alcoholic security guard that keeps beating on his wife and son.
    • Danielle's parents in "The Collection" are a more emotional example—they're super-controlling over every aspect of her life, down to her television-watching and diet. It's clearly taking a huge toll on her.
  • Adult Fear: "How Much Do You Love Your Kid?" Your child may be kidnapped, and the police won't do a thing about it, because it is for a perfectly legal TV show. And there is the implied threat that if you can't find your child in an hour, you will never see them again. And your own husband was the kidnapper, and thinks that doing it all was a favor.
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  • Ambiguously Evil: "Rikki" in "Sanctuary": Was she trying to get Scott and Marisa kicked out of the sanctuary For the Evulz or was her "job" (as she calls it) to test whether they truly deserved to stay? While she acts a bit like a villain, it is ultimately left to the viewer to decide.
  • And I Must Scream: Danielle in "The Collection" turns her babysitters into dolls so they won't leave her, and they are fully aware and conscious.
  • Arc Words: Appear many times on various episodes (as an example, "Not Yet" on "The Executions Of Grady Finch", which is heard by Finch every time he is to be executed (and which makes the hearing of "Now!" when Finch gets his Laser-Guided Karma a Wham Line).
  • Armour-Piercing Question: In the episode "Shades of Guilt", a man who allowed an African-American professor named John to be beaten to death, when he could have saved him, is forced to transform into said black man. With no where else to go, he turns to John's family, leading to the man's wife telling him he first has to answer a question:
    Wife: If my husband was white, would you have saved him?
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  • Artistic License – History: "Cradle of Darkness" portrays Alois Hitler as a German nationalist who wanted Austria and Germany united, along with being antisemitic and bigoted toward Romani. It's implied he was the source of Adolf Hitler's views. The real Alois is not known to have had these opinions however. Adolf Hitler first got into far-right politics after Alois died as a student in Vienna.
  • Bad Boss: Rick of "Mr. Motivation," to begin with, he gives Charles an impossible task, which Charles must complete in less than a day.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: A recurring theme of the show, particularly in "The Pharaoh's Curse." An up-and-coming magician tries to learn the secret to a trick performed by the world's master at sleight of hand. Only after performing the trick does he realize that it's true magic, and he's now trapped in his aging mentor's body.
  • Broken Aesop: "Azoth The Avenger Is A Friend of Mine" teaches having courage. However, when Craig showed his courage by standing up to his father, the father had no fear of retaliating and Craig was only saved from him because he used Azoth's magic sword to turn his dad into an action figure. Believe it or not in the real world, kids don't have power like that.
  • Color Me Black: "Shades of Guilt": A man avoids picking up an African-American activist (which allows some skinheads to beat him to death) and he keeps trying to avoid blame... and the Twilight Zone twist is him slowly becoming a twin of said activist, starting with his skin color changing, up until somehow he ends up living what precisely happened that night, and himself/a copy of himself picks him up out of mercy.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • In "Azoth The Avenger Is A Friend Of Mine", how does a regular Joe security guard (and abusive husband) defeat a Conan the Barbarian Expy? By splashing hot coffee in his face and not stopping his beat-down with a night stick until the other guy stops moving.
    • In "The Chosen", the protagonist gets his hands on a shotgun and blows away one of the mystery men that is making people disappear by shooting right through the door the moment he sees him about to knock. Unfortunately the guy turns out to be an angel that can heal from being shot in about five seconds and doing that made the angels decide to leave him behind to die in a nuclear war, but that's beyond the scope of this trope.
  • Continuation Fic: "It's Still A Good Life" is a direct continuation to the original series' "It's a Good Life", showcasing that Anthony Fremont has grown up and has a daughter, who happens to be his Superior Successor in terms of powers. The conflict of the episode comes from the rest of town noticing this and Anthony's grandmother deciding to try to use her as a Laser Guided Tyke Bomb to take out Anthony and his reign of terror once and for all.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • What Craig wanted Azoth The Avenger to do to his abusive dad (and it's not unusual for him (and the audience) to believe it's going to happen, with Azoth being a Conan the Barbarian Expy and Craig's dad being a regular security guard). Turned out that it went the other way around, and Craig's dad gives Azoth a beating with his nightstick so bad that Azoth asks Craig to put him back on his home dimension immediately (although not before telling him that this is a situation where only Craig can save himself, if he is brave enough to confront his father).
    • In "The Collection," Miranda (a fully-grown human female) squares off against a collection of living Barbie-sized dolls. No points for guessing who wins, although Miranda really should have let the dolls get her out of the house instead...
  • Dark Is Not Evil: "The Chosen": An unpleasant asshole is followed around by two intimidating people in dark leather trenchcoats telling him he's been "chosen." Eventually the asshole's friends get in on the act and say the same thing. It turns out in the end that the two pursuers were angels rescuing mankind from an impending nuclear war, and the asshole is subsequently left to die in atomic fire.
  • Death Is the Only Option: In "To Protect and Serve", a cop kills an abusive pimp to protect a woman, but the pimp comes back as a ghost and continues his evil ways. The cop eventually kills himself, becoming a ghost and allowing him to defeat the pimp once and for all.
  • Death Takes a Holiday: The premise of "One Night at Mercy." Death, here depicted as a middle-aged man who's grown depressed after countless eons killing every living thing on Earth, tries killing himself, but it doesn't work. The doctor treating him afterward mockingly suggests that he "quit," and Death decides to do just that. While the doctor initially thinks this is a good thing, he changes his mind when a group of burn victims are brought into the hospital in horrific, agonizing pain, but unable to die. He finds Death and begs him to go back on the job. Death is reluctant—"One day off in a four and a half billion years"—but ultimately agrees. The first name on his list? The doctor who was treating him.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Implied with Death in "One Night at Mercy." When Dr. Jay Ferguson rushes to find him and convince him to take up his old job, he finds him on the roof, murmuring about how he has to visit every living thing: "I kill flowers, too. Did you ever think about that? It's not just animals and people. It's grass, trees, roses..."
  • Divine Intervention: "The Executions of Grady Finch". Played with in that said Divine Intervention kept Finch from being killed via execution for a crime he committed (but he kept insisting that he didn't)... up until he was allowed to walk away (because if every time he was going to be executed the method backfired and left him unharmed, then there was no reason to keep him on death row, or even in prison at all) and it made him brave (and stupid) enough to finally admit to the family of his victim that he did it, which was when the Divine Intervention intervened to have a statue of Lady Justice fall on him and kill him.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: "One Night At Mercy": Death is a kindly fellow who doesn't like his job at all and is happy to quit. When the doctor eventually dies of an aneurysm, Death comforts him, admits that he's tempted to just let the doctor come back to life, and shows admiration for the doctor's ability to give life to the patients.
  • Downer Ending: As per the standard of The Twilight Zone:
    • "Evergreen": the "rebellious" teenage girl gets turned into fertilizer.
    • "Chosen": after accidentally shooting the angel trying to rescue him, the man ends up being disintegrated on the exploding remains of Earth.
    • "How Much Do You Love Your Kid?": the woman "wins" a million dollars and the game show by killing the man who kidnapped her son...who turns out to be her husband, who did it to solve their money problems. She is arrested and has to use the money to hire a lawyer to get her off.note 
    • "Night Route": an engaged-to-be married college professor who survived being hit by a car ended up dying in the accident due to rejecting the bus of life that kept trying to save her. Worse, she wasn't really able to become a professor or engaged because of her death.
    • "Future Trade": the man that switched lives with a successful and wealthy executive with a beautiful wife ends up being murdered by the said wife, who along with her boyfriend set him up to look like he drowned instead.
    • "The Lineman": the mind-reader who comes to hate his new power is stuck with this ability and has been driven crazy by it, to boot.
    • "Rewind": the man with time-travel abilities that uses them to cheat at the casino ends up being caught by the mobsters after him.
    • "The Collection": the babysitter gets turned into a doll and the little girl gets away with it.
  • Dream Within a Dream: "The Pool Boy": Throughout the episode, the main character keeps waking up screaming each time that a mysterious man kills him. He gradually goes insane when he can't figure out if he's really awake or not every time the loop resets. In fact, everything he experiences is a dream; he was sentenced for murder and placed in a virtual prison. The man who kills him over and over again is the man he had originally murdered.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: "Gabe's Story": The titular character has been having a severe run of bad luck lately. As his life is about to crumble apart for good, he learns that he and everyone else are having their "stories" written for them, as - supposedly - nothing would ever happen to them otherwise. Gabe convinces his Writer and her boss allowing him to take control of his own life - allowing him to reconcile with his wife and get a fresh start.
  • Enfante Terrible: Anthony Fremont's daughter didn't fell far from the tree. She gets fed up with her grandmother trying to use her as a Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb against Anthony to banish everybody who was still remaining in town to "the cornfield", eventually gets bored about her and her father being the only people left in town so she brings the people (and the rest of the world) back, and the episode ends with her and Anthony watching a baseball game in Brooklyn Stadium with her making clear that she will experience a nice life with her dad from now on... and nothing will get in their way.
  • Failed Execution, No Sentence: "The Executions Of Brady Finch" has the titular man sentenced to die, even when he insists that he's innocent of the murder that put him there. Divine Intervention prevents him from getting killed multiple times (even when the victim's angry son walks up to Finch in court and tries to shoot him) and Finch's lawyer eventually manages to convince the court that just keeping on trying to execute him would in and of itself be considered "cruel and unusual punishment" and must mean that someone up there thinks he's innocent, so Finch must be set free. The truth is that Finch was the murderer and he finally gets the courage to confess, to his lawyer, when he's let go... which is what the Divine Intervention wanted all along, so it kills him by dropping the courthouse's statue of Justice on him.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Body Surf-capable Secret Service Agent on "Time Lapse". Played for horror because the nurse that keeps getting possessed by the Agent doesn't knows what the hell is going on and (quite understandably) fears that whoever is possessing his body will assassinate the President of the United States unless he does something about it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In "Into the Light", the teacher stopped one of her students from shooting his classmates after being bullied. She tries to grab his gun, which caused them to fall from the roof. Unfortunately, you arguably have to wonder why, since one of his targets was a bully and a racist Fat Bastard.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: "Cradle of Darkness". Subverted in that the time traveler succeeds, only for the nanny to replace baby Adolf with a baby from a beggar woman on the street, who grows up be the Hitler we know.
  • Hollywood Law: One standard use of this trope with "if people sentenced to death cannot be executed for reasons beyond our control, even after trying several times, they are free" appears in "The Executions Of Grady Finch", among some other examples.
  • Hypochondria: The episode "The Placebo Effect", where a hospital patient becomes convinced he has a fictional alien disease from a novel he read. The patient's belief soon manifests in reality, causing the illness to spread around the hospital. The doctors eventually give the man a placebo cure, allegedly created from a fallen meteor-only for the patient's paranoia about the meteor strike to create a new ice age...
  • I Choose to Stay: "Found And Lost".
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: In "The Collection," this is Danielle's justification for transforming her babysitters into dolls—she's so desperately lonely for any sort of companionship that she'll do whatever it takes to make people stay with her...whether they want to or not.
  • Immoral Reality Show: The eponymous "How Much Do You Love Your Kid?", that kidnaps people's children and forces the parent selected as a "contestant" to Race Against Time to locate the kid by answering a number of questions that will lead them to where the kid is... and a million dollars. And there's the implied threat that if the parents can't find their child in an hour, they'll never see them again. It becomes more sadistic when it turns out that in order to legally allow children to be taken in such a way, at least one of the parents must agree, even with said implied risk on the line.
  • Immortality Immorality: "Pharaoh's Curse" has a great magician perform the trick of the same name to switch bodies with a protege when he gets too old.
  • Irony: Alois Hitler had displayed racism toward Romani in "Cradle of Darkness". When his real son has been replaced with a Romani woman's, the chief inspector pronounces him a "pure Aryan". Possibly a dig at not only the racist pseudoscience of the "Aryan" theory, but also the fact that Alois Hitler's true paternity is uncertain.
  • Karma Houdini: Danielle in "The Collection", who turns her babysitters into dolls, and her parents merely think that they bail on her halfway through the night. And yet, her father complains that this is the third time this has happened through one agency, and no one has noticed that over a dozen girls have disappeared after babysitting this one house...
  • Kiddie Kid: Danielle from "The Collection" has shades of this—she's stated to be ten, but occasionally acts extremely immature, lashing out when anyone touches her toys and assuming that every babysitter she has naturally wants to be her very best friend. Justified in universe by her parents being overly controlling and treating her like a baby, suggesting that she hasn't matured because they won't let her.
  • Knight Templar: The people who run the Evergreen community. They kill troubled teens that couldn't be helped and in their mind were beyond saving. They then turn them into soil, because that's the most beneficial thing they could ever be. Of course, every small deviation is considered troubled by their standards.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: "The Executions of Grady Finch" has the eponymous character, who managed to evade multiple execution attempts for the previous murder he committed and was found not guilty at his retrial, ended up being crushed by a giant statue that fell from the top of the courthouse.
  • Living Doll Collector:
    • "The Collection" featured a little girl who turned all her babysitters into Barbie dolls because she was lonely and didn't want them to ever leave.
    • The end of "Azoth the Avenger is a Friend of Mine" sees Craig transforming his abusive father into an action figure with a magic spell.
  • Lonely Doll Girl: Danielle in "The Collection", to the point of being a Living Doll Collector.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The reveal of "The Pool Boy" is that the endless nightmare the main character finds himself in, where he's repeatedly murdered by a mysterious man, is actually a virtual prison that he was put in after being convicted of murder.
  • Missing Time: In "Time Lapse", an orderly finds himself suffering repeated blackouts where another consciousness takes over his body and travels out of the state, acquiring a weapon to be used in an apparent assassination attempt on the U.S. President. The other person is in fact a Secret Service Agent who was trying to stop a plot to kill the President, but ended up in a coma and discovered that he could project his mind into a nearby body.
  • My Greatest Failure: In "Azoth the Avenger is a Friend of Mine," the title character reveals that in his youth, he fled a demonic attack that killed his whole family. His shame over his action continues to motivate him.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Bad Boss Rick of "Mr. Motivation," gives a motivational doll to Charles. This doll that turns out to be alive, motivates Charles to stop being such a doormat and show that his boss commited fraud.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: Craig says this word for word to his father in "Azoth the Avenger is a Friend of Mine." His mother doesn't quote the trope name, her standing up to her husband to defend Craig implies this.
  • Oh, Crap!: When the husband and wife in "Sanctuary" realize that by using Rikki's only working cell phone, they have given into temptation and as a result, they forfeited their chance to live in a real-life garden of Eden.
    • Miranda in "The Collection" when she discovers driver's licenses that match the names and appearances of Danielle's dolls, and realizes that they're all former babysitters who were permanently transformed by the child's desperation.
  • Only Sane Man: Several examples, such as the Mama Bear of "How Much Do You Love Your Child?", who instantly questions what kind of maniac would think of a contest where the life of a child is at stake to force contestants to participate.
  • Opening Shout-Out: Rod Serling is featured in the opening credits.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Ever-Green community, where they turn some teens into red plant fertilizer disguised as a 'reeducation camp' especially for them.
  • The Powers That Be: In "One Night at Mercy," Death remarks that while he wants to quit, forces even more powerful than him (which he simply calls "They") won't permit him to do so.
  • Pygmalion Plot: In "Dream Lover", a bored artist decides to create the literal girl of his dreams to help him unwind after drawing her on a sheet of paper. She gradually becomes more rebellious and starts to ignore him until she reveals that he didn't create her, she created him. She erases him when he becomes jealous of her romance with a real man.
  • Race Lift: This revival was targeted towards a more African-American audience; the host was black as were a lot of the main characters in its episodes, and it featured episodes such as a racist white man waking up black. Tropes Are Not Bad, of course, and being on UPN might have had something to do with it.
  • Reality Warper: Danielle in "The Collection" can transform adults into dolls while under extreme duress.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: If you think the soundtrack from the series sounds oddly familiar, it's because the series' composer was Mark Snow and he reused some of his music from The X-Files.
  • The Remake: "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" and "Eye of the Beholder", with some Setting Update.
  • Ret Gone: "Upgrade" has an overstressed woman complaining about her rebellious teenagers, disobedient dog and her family's bills. After falling and hitting her head, she gradually comes to witness the dog, both teenagers, her husband and eventually herself upgraded into superior versions of themselves. It then is shown to be a computer game that a little girl is playing and she decides to keep the new family. Be Careful What You Wish For, indeed.
  • Satanic Archetype: "Rikki" in "Sanctuary" seems like some kind of Devil figure. From the moment she arrives, she's associated with snakes, scorpions, and wasps, constantly tries to tempt the main characters to use her phone (the only one that works) to call the outside world, and calls them "mortals" during her "The Reason You Suck" Speech. It is left ambiguous whether she's trying to get them kicked out of the sanctuary because she's evil or whether her role was to test whether they deserved to be there in the first place.
  • Setting Update: "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" uses the fact that it's 2002 to add more things to the blackout that freak out people, like cell phones being unresponsive, explores the paranoia behind profiling (the only house that still receives light belongs to a Middle-Eastern man) and on top of that it uses the fact that The War on Terror is fresh to change the creators of said blackout from aliens to a U.S. Government Conspiracy that was testing how normal Americans would react to a situation that fired up their paranoia.
  • Shout-Out: In "The Collection", Danielle tells Miranda that she and Jenny used to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer together and that Jenny wanted Buffy and Spike to hook up. Both The Twilight Zone and Buffy aired on UPN during the 2002-2003 season.
  • Superior Successor: Anthony Fremont's daughter in "It's Still a Good Life" manages to be a Superior Successor to a nigh-omnipotent Reality Warper. She can restore things that her father has willed out of existence (which he himself cannot do) and is immune to his telepathy.
  • That Sounds Familiar: In "Hunted" a virtually crime-free future society is suddenly menaced by a mysterious creature called a Kreetor, believed to have long been extinct. The leader of the team tasked with finding and killing the Kreetor finds out that the Kreetor is actually a human, possibly the only one left on Earth, and all the other "humans" are actually cyborgs who wiped out the human race and took over their civilization. The word Kreetor came from "creator."
  • Too Good to Be True: In the episode "Future Trade", the main character realizes this only after he finds out that the man he traded futures with had cheated on the beautiful trophy wife and now she is getting her revenge by poisoning who she thinks is her husband.


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