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This page covers tropes found in The Twilight Zone (1959). Tropes beginning with letters A-H can be found at Tropes A to H and tropes beginning with letters Q-Z can be found at Tropes Q to Z.


The Twilight Zone (1959) provides examples of:

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     I-K 
  • I Have Many Names:
    • In "Long Live Walter Jameson", the 2,000-year-old immortal protagonist has gone by many names during his exceptionally long life, including Hugh Skelton, Tom Bowen and finally Walter Jameson.
    • In "Queen of the Nile", Pamela Morris' previous identities include the Silent Movie star Constance Taylor and the stage actress Gladys Gregory. In his closing narration, Rod Serling implies that her original identity was Cleopatra VII.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: In "Eye of the Beholder", Janet Tyler has had ten previous reconstructive surgeries to correct her deformity over the years and is awaiting the results of her eleventh. She tells the nurse that she never wanted to be beautiful, only for people not to scream when they looked at her.
  • Illegal Religion: In "The Obsolete Man", the State claims to have determined that God does not exist and therefore has banned any form of religion. Possessing a Bible is punishable by death.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The twist ending of "To Serve Man" reveals that the title book is a cookbook; the seemingly benevolent aliens are harvesting humans for food.
  • Immortality Immorality:
    • In "Long Live Walter Jameson", the title character has married dozens of times during the course of more than 2,000 years and abandoned each of his wives as they grew older in order to keep his secret.
    • In "Queen of the Nile", Pamela Morris has managed to stay alive and beautiful for two millennia by draining the Life Energy of young men using a scarab beetle.
  • Immune to Bullets:
    • In "A Nice Place to Visit", Rocky Valentine discovers that Pip is not human when he shoots him and the bullets have no effect.
    • In "The Passersby", the Union soldier that Lavinia Godwin shoots suffers no ill effects from the bullet as he is already dead.
    • In "Printer's Devil", Douglas Winter shoots Mr. Smith three times in the chest at point-blank range but he is completely uninjured as he is the Devil.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • In "The 7th is Made Up of Phantoms", Private Michael McCluskey is struck in the back with an arrow when he enters a Sioux encampment during the Battle of Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876.
    • In "The Encounter", when Arthur Takamori attempts to kill Fenton with the samurai sword for the second time, Fenton manages to subdue him and knock the sword out of his hand. He then bends down to pick it up and is impaled when Arthur pulls at his feet.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: In "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", Bob Wilson is able to shoot and kill the gremlin while hanging outside a flying plane in the middle of a storm.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: In "Four O'Clock", the fanatical Conspiracy Theorist Oliver Crangle plans to shrink all of the so-called evil people whom he believes are trying to destroy the United States at four o'clock. When the time comes, Crangle is shrunk himself.
  • Injun Country: In "A Hundred Yards over the Rim", Charlie, a member of Chris Horn's wagon train in 1847, is worried about being attacked by the Apache as the expedition is approaching their territory.
  • In Medias Res: "The Long Morrow" begins with Commander Douglas Stansfield aboard the ship in his suspended animation chamber as the date changes from December 31, 1987 to January 1, 1988. It then flashes back to Dr. Bixler recruiting Stansfield for the mission the previous June.
  • Inner Monologue:
    • Nan Adams' inner monologue, in which she tries to make sense of the hitchhiker's repeated appearances, is heard throughout "The Hitch-Hiker".
    • "King Nine Will Not Return" features Captain James Embry's panicked thoughts when he finds that he is alone in the African desert with his B-25 Mitchell bomber King Nine in 1943.
    • Michael Chambers' inner monologue is heard at various points throughout "To Serve Man" as he relates the story of the Kanamits' arrival on Earth and its aftermath.
    • In "The Long Morrow", Commander Douglas Stansfield's inner monologue while in suspended animation is heard throughout the episode.
  • Innocence Lost: In "Kick the Can", Charles Whitley regrets that growing up means having to let go of childhood games and beliefs, recalling that Ben Conroy once believed in magic. He thinks that people start to grow old as soon as they stop playing these games.
  • Innocent Aliens: In "The Gift", Williams' goal in coming to Earth, giving humanity a Cure for Cancer, was entirely selfless and honorable.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • In "Twenty-Two", Liz Powell's agent Barney Kamener says that she is a stripper but she corrects him by saying that she is a dancer.
    • In "Passage on the Lady Anne", whenever Eileen Ransome refers to the Lady Anne as "it," Toby and Millie McKenzie tell her that the ship is a "she."
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: There were two of them. The first season featured a haunting, string-laden theme composed by Bernard Herrmann; this was replaced in Season 2 with a different and much more familiar theme (featuring the iconic high-pitched four-note guitar riff) composed by Marius Constant.
  • Interactive Narrator: At the end of "A World of His Own", Rod Serling appears to give his closing speech, only to be interrupted and then erased by Gregory's Reality Warper powers (complete with a This Is Gonna Suck remark from Rod before he vanishes). This was actually his very first onscreen appearance: it proved so popular that it set the tradition of him appearing onscreen to give the episode narration.
  • Interspecies Romance: In "Black Leather Jackets", the alien Scott falls in love with the human girl Ellen Tillman.
  • In the Back: In "Mr. Garrity and the Graves", Sheriff Gilchrist shot the notorious outlaw "Lightning" Peterson in the back in the presence of six deputies. As such, he does not want him to come back from the dead and pays Jed Garrity $1,200 to prevent this from happening. It turns out that Garrity's ceremony was successful in resurrecting Peterson and the other 127 people buried in Boot Hill Cemetery and Peterson plans to have his revenge on Gilchrist.
  • In the Doldrums: "Time Enough at Last" has a man who only wants to read be the sole survivor when everyone else on Earth is killed off. He finally has all the time in the world to read! And then he breaks his glasses.
  • Intrepid Reporter:
    • In "Valley of the Shadow", a journalist named Philip Redfield discovers a small town named Peaceful Valley while driving through New Mexico. He notices strange occurrences around town and realizes that there's something unusual going on, leading him to investigate. Once he discovers that the town's citizens have access to various extremely advanced forms of Applied Phlebotinum, he is determined to reveal the truth to the world, even risking death to do so.
    • In "Queen of the Nile", Jordan Herrick arrives at Pamela Morris' house in Hollywood to write a fluff piece about her and is immediately smitten with her. However, his curiosity is piqued when Viola Draper, ostensibly Pamela's elderly mother, tells him that she is in fact her daughter. With the help of Mrs. Draper and his editor Krueger in Chicago, Jordan determines that Pamela is immortal and has used many identities, including the Silent Movie star Constance Taylor and the stage actress Gladys Gregory, over the years.
  • Interrupted Suicide: In "Printer's Devil", depressed by the impending closure of The Dansburg Courier, Douglas Winter is about to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge until he unwittingly summons the Devil, who offers his services as a reporter and linotype operator under the name Mr. Smith.
  • Invisible to Normals:
    • In "One for the Angels", only the person who is about to die, initially Lou Bookman, can see Mr. Death. After Maggie Polanski is hit by a truck, she can see him as well.
    • In "The Hitch-Hiker", Nan Adams is the only one who can see the title character.
    • In "Mr. Bevis", Mr. James B.W. Bevis is the only person who can see his Guardian Angel J. Hardy Hempstead.
    • In "Mr. Dingle, the Strong", neither the two-headed Martian nor the two Venusians can be seen by humans. However, they can see each other.
    • In "Nothing in the Dark", the revelation that the contractor can't see Harold Beldon leads Wanda Dunn to realize that he is Death.
  • Invisible Wall: In "Valley of the Shadow", after Philip Redfield learns that there is something unusual about the town of Peaceful Valley, New Mexico, its mayor Dorn activates an invisible wall to prevent him from leaving. His car crashes into it and his dog Rollie is killed, though he is brought back to life. Later, Philip very reluctantly agrees to remain in town and another invisible wall is erected around his house.
  • Ironic Death:
    • "A Most Unusual Camera". After the main characters die, the waiter smugly counts the number of bodies: "One... two... three... FOUR?!" Cue screaming.
    • In "The Obsolete Man", the Chancellor, having sentenced librarian Romney Wordsworth to death for being obsolete, is lured into a trap wherein Wordsworth locks him in his apartment with the time bomb he has chosen as his method of execution. The state will not rescue the Chancellor for fear of losing face, and eventually, in front of the television audience Wordsworth has requested be witness to his execution, the panicked Chancellor begs to be set free in the name of the God the state denies even exists. His cowardice causes him to be sentenced to death as obsolete.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Wordsworth does this to the Chancellor a couple of times in the penultimate scene of "The Obsolete Man":
      Wordsworth: You're cheating the audience. Face the camera.
      ((later))
      Wordsworth: You must face the camera. It's very important. You said so yourself.
    • The semi-Title Drop of "People Are Alike All Over".
      Marcusson: Don't be afraid Sam! I've got a hunch... if there's anyone out there, they'll help you... As long as they have hearts and minds, they have souls! That makes them people! And... people are alike... they're bound to be a-like...
      (later)
      Sam (inside a Martian zoo): Marcusson! Marcusson, you were right! You were right... People are alike... people are alike everywhere...
    • In "Spur of the Moment", David Mitchell mockingly tells his wife Anne that he is her true love and her adored one in 1964, the same words that Anne used to describe him before they eloped on June 13, 1939.
  • Ironic Hell:
    • In "A Nice Place to Visit", Rocky Valentine is a small-time crook shot dead by a policeman after a robbery, but in the afterlife, he finds his every desire catered to with no effort whatever, and he wins every game he plays, and assumes he has gone to Heaven. However, he soon grows bored of endless effortless victory, and asks Pip, the spirit guide who greeted him in the afterlife, if he can go to "the other place" for a while. Pip menacingly informs him that he's in "the other place", and will spend eternity being driven insane by getting everything he wants without trying.
    • In "A Game of Pool", Jesse Cardiff laments that he will never be regarded as the greatest pool player as long as people compare him to the deceased "Fats" Brown, and wishes he could play a game against him to settle the question once and for all. When Brown's ghost appears and Cardiff defeats him, his "reward" is to spend the afterlife as Brown had previously done, defending his "greatest" title against people who wish they could play a game against him to settle the question of whether or not they really are better than he was.
  • Ironic Name: In "Mr. Garrity and the Graves", the recently renamed town of Happiness, Arizona has 128 people buried in its cemetery, making it the biggest cemetery west of Chicago. The townspeople are all keen to prevent the dead from returning to life as they fear the repercussions.
  • Irony: Besides its frequent use on the show, there's a meta example. A year before Dennis Weaver played a man afraid to go to sleep in the episode "Shadow Play", he played a man with the opposite problem in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Insomnia".
  • Is This a Joke?: Standard explanation for anything unusual and unexplainable.
  • It's All About Me: In "The Masks", Paula Harper is extremely self-obsessed and spends most of her time admiring her looks. Her grandfather Jason Foster says that she sees the world as nothing more than a reflection of herself.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: "The Masks" tells the story of wealthy but terminally ill New Orleans resident Jason Foster, who is visited by his useless daughter Emily and her even more useless husband Wilfred, Sr. and children Wilfred, Jr. and Paula. The day of this visit happens to be Mardi Gras.
  • Jackass Genie: In "The Man in the Bottle", a genie grants Arthur Castle four wishes. His third wish is to become the head of a contemporary foreign country who can't be voted out of office. The genie turns him into Adolf Hitler at the end of World War II, in a bunker under attack. Castle has to use his fourth wish to escape this fate.
  • Jerkass Façade: In "A Piano in the House", Fitzgerald Fortune is an arrogant bully because he secretly has the emotional maturity of a child. He is afraid of people, and as a result acts like an insufferable dick to everyone around him. He's even shown to be a Loving Bully (of the emotional variety) towards his wife because of it. In the end, the piano makes him reveal this to everybody in the room.
  • Jungles Sound Like Kookaburras: In "The Jungle", Alan Richards hears sounds of the African jungle over the telephone due to the curse placed on him by the Kekouyu, yet the kookaburra sound pops up.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: "The Brain Center at Whipple's" has a Corrupt Corporate Executive named Wallace V. Whipple replacing factory workers with robots, a plot that was still science fiction in 1964.
  • Just Following Orders:
    • In "Deaths-Head Revisited", Gunter Lütze claims that he simply functioned as he was told in abusing and torturing the prisoners at Dachau but his flashbacks indicate that he revelled in carrying out his orders. Becker describes this defense as "the Nazi theme music at Nuremberg."
    • In "The Encounter", Fenton tries to justifies killing a Japanese officer who had already surrendered on the grounds that he and his fellow soldiers were ordered to take no prisoners on Okinawa.
  • "Just Joking" Justification: In "The Encounter", Fenton regularly makes bigoted remarks about Arthur Takamori's Japanese-American heritage and then claims that he was just joking when Arthur takes offense.
  • Karma Houdini: This trope is averted through most of the series, but shows up in some fifth season episodes (such as "What's in the Box?" and "Caesar and Me"). In his book The Twilight Zone Companion, Marc Scott Zicree identifies this as a symptom of Seasonal Rot.
  • Karmic Transformation: In "I Dream of Genie", the dog Attila accompanies George P. Hanley through all of his fantasies about what he should wish for but with his breed modified to match George's own changed profession, from a tiny purebred to a wolfhound to a black Scottish terrier. In the last of these in which George is President of the United States, Attila is the same breed and color as Franklin D. Roosevelt's dog Fala.

     L 
  • Language Barrier:
    • In "Two", two soldiers who survived an apocalyptic war, a man and a woman, are wandering in a deserted city. They don't speak the same language. After they meet, they have to learn how to communicate.
    • In "Probe 7, Over and Out", two humanoid space travelers from different races, Colonel Cook and Norda, are stranded on a planet. After they meet, they have to learn how to communicate with each other.
  • Large Ham: More often than not, an episode will have at least one.
    • Rod Serling himself is a pretty big ham almost constantly in his narrations.
    • William Shatner stars up in two episodes. (Although to be fair to Mr Shatner, he is quite reserved in his acting in "Nick Of Time". Which is ironically likely the reason most people only remember his other Zone episode, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet".)
    • "The Obsolete Man" is filled to the brim with ham...and some interpretative dance towards the end.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: In "Valley of the Shadow", Dorn, the mayor of Peaceful Valley, New Mexico, studies the town's laws and discovers that there is an alternative to executing Philip Redfield or forcing him to remain in Peaceful Valley. His memory of everything that happened to him during his visit is wiped. He is left with nothing more than a sense of deja vu.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • In "Judgement Night", German U-Boat captain Karl Lanser is forced to relive the sinking of a British passenger liner by a torpedo fired by his submarine over and over - but as a passenger on the liner, unable to convince anyone aboard of the impending disaster.
    • "Deaths-Head Revisited" features SS captain Gunter Lutze, former commandant at the Dachau concentration camp, returning to the camp to reminisce. The ghosts of the Jewish inmates whose deaths he ordered appear and force him to mentally experience the torture and agony to which he subjected them, and he is driven insane in a matter of hours and is taken away to an asylum.
    • In "Sounds and Silences", Roswell G. Flemington manages to shut out his wife Lydia to the point where he can no longer hear her but the idea backfires. He becomes unable to hear any of the noise that he loves so much. In his closing narration, Rod Serling mentions that he is committed to a sanitarium and even describes Roswell's fate as poetic justice.
    • In "The Brain Center at Whipple's", Wallace V. Whipple replaces almost the entire staff of his manufacturing plant with machines. He is eventually replaced with a robot as the board was concerned that he had become neurotically obsessed with the machines.
  • Last of His Kind: In "Probe 7, Over and Out", Colonel Cook and Norda are the last survivors of their respective races. Cook's people destroyed themselves in a war. Norda's planet left its orbit. She either managed to escape in a ship before her people died or was already in her ship at the time.
  • The Last Title: "The Last Flight", "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank" and "The Last Night of a Jockey".
  • Latex Perfection: In "Hocus-Pocus and Frisby", the aliens use masks which perfectly hide their true appearance. Somerset Frisby shatters their leader's mask when he punches him in the face.
  • Laugh Track:
    • In "The Dummy", one is used for the scenes in which Jerry Etherson is performing his ventriloquism act.
    • The Poorly Disguised Pilot "Cavender is Coming" featured a laugh track during its original showing and early syndication. It was removed from the syndication prints in the mid 1980s.
  • Life Drinker:
    • The title character in "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross" found that he could obtain abstract or otherwise normally non-transferable attributes from other people by simply making the deal with them. Among other attributes, he restored his youth by "buying" it from younger men who thought him to be a kook giving them money for nothing. He only took a year from each man, but was able to become young again. Incidentally, he was only an old man because he had previously sold his own youth to an elderly millionaire (he came out financially ahead after the exchanges were complete).
    • In "Queen of the Nile", Pamela Morris uses a scarab beetle to drain the life force of men so she can maintain her eternal youth. It's implied that she's the actual Cleopatra VII.
  • Literary Allusion Title:
  • Lilliputians:
    • Subverted in "The Invaders". It appears for most of the episode that the invaders belong to a race of tiny aliens but it turns out that they are actually normal sized humans in a world of giants.
    • In "The Little People", the astronaut Peter Craig discovers a race of tiny people no bigger than ants on another planet and immediately sets himself up as their god. Craig even compares them to the Lilliputians. He is later killed by a giant spaceman who picked him up and accidentally crushed him in his hand.
    • In "The Fear", Charlotte Scott and a highway patrolman named Robert Franklin are harassed by a 500 foot tall alien monster. It turns out that the monster is in fact a giant balloon being controlled by two very small aliens. They soon leave Earth to avoid being crushed by the "giant" humans. As they leave, Robert tells Charlotte that he wishes them luck and expresses the hope that they will be the giants on the next planet that they land on.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: In "Passage on the Lady Anne", Alan and Eileen Ransome are the only people onboard the Lady Anne who do not know that she is headed towards the afterlife.
  • Longing for Fictionland:
  • Lonely Rich Kid: In "The Bewitchin' Pool", Jeb and Sport Sharewood are continually ignored and neglected by their wealthy parents Gil and Gloria, who are too concerned with their own lives and sniping at each other to even notice the children except when they scold them.
  • Look Ma, No Plane!: In "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", having strapped himself in to avoid being blown out, Bob Wilson opens the door marked "Auxiliary Exit" next to his seat and shoots the gremlin with the gun that he stole from a sleeping police officer.
  • Looks Worth Killing For: In "Queen of the Nile", Pamela Morris has killed seemingly thousands of men to maintain her youth and beauty over the course of more than 2,000 years.
  • Louis Cypher:
    • "The Chaser" features a character named Professor A. Daemon. His name is suspicious enough to make the viewer wonder about his true nature, albeit that doesn't seem the case at least until the end of the episode.
    • In "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", William J. Feathersmith meets a beautiful young woman named Miss Devlin on the thirteenth floor of his building. He soon realizes that she is the Devil.
  • Love at First Sight: In "The Long Morrow", Commander Douglas Stansfield and Sandra Horn are both instantly smitten the moment that they meet. After knowing each other for only three and a half hours, they proclaim their love.
  • Love Potion:
    • In "The Chaser", Roger Shackleforth is "madly, passionately, illogically, miserably, all-consumingly in love" with Leila, who can just about stand to be around him. Under the belief that he can't live without her, he buys a love potion from Professor Daemon for $1 and slips it into her champagne. Within less than a minute, the potion takes full effect. Six months later, Roger and Leila are married but she is so exceptionally clingy and suffocating that Roger does not have a moment's peace. As Professor Daemon tried to warn him when he bought it, the potion worked too well.
    • In "Jess-Belle", after her ex-boyfriend Billy-Ben Turner proposes to Ellwyn Glover, Jess-Belle Stone goes to Granny Hart, who is rumored to be a witch, in order to obtain a love potion and prevent the wedding from taking place. However, she has no money and Granny Hart recoils when she tries to offer her a pearl hairpin with a silver stick. As such, the price that Jess-Belle is forced to pay is a supernatural one: she will transform with a leopard every night at the stroke of twelve. She later discovers that she has sold her soul to Granny Hart and has turned into a witch herself.
  • Love Redeems: In "Black Leather Jackets", Scott realizes that his race's plan to wipe out humanity is wrong after he falls in love with Ellen Tillman.
  • Love Triangle: In "From Agnes - With Love", there are two related examples. the Master Computer Agnes soon falls in love with James Elwood, who is interested in Millie. Although Millie is fond of him, Elwood's fumbling and Agnes' deliberately bad advice results in him ruining all of their dates. Agnes suggests that he introduce Millie to an inferior male so that he will look better by comparison. Unfortunately for Elwood, Agnes recommends the third floor programmer Walter Holmes, a suave, handsome ladies' man with a blue sports car. He and Millie hit it off immediately, as Agnes knew would happen.
  • Lucky Rabbit's Foot:
    • In "Nick of Time", Don Carter carries one with him at all times, as well as a Four-Leaf Clover.
    • In "The Jungle", Mr. Sinclair, the president of Alan Richards' company, wears a rabbit's foot on his watch chain. Richards uses this to point out that he is almost as superstitious as the Kekouyu.

     M 
  • The Mafia:
    • In "The Four of Us Are Dying", Arch Hammer imitates Virgil Sterig, a gangster who was murdered on the orders of the mob boss Penell.
    • In "Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room", Jackie Rhoades is a gangster who typically performs comparatively minor jobs such as breaking and entering and the occasional mugging for his boss George. As the police are well aware that Jackie does not do the big jobs, George tells him to kill the old bartender in order to throw them off the scent.
    • In "Dead Man's Shoes", Dane and Bernie Dagget were gangsters who were partners in the running of a nightclub. When Dagget offered to buy him out, Dane refused. Dagget was unwilling to accept this and had him murdered so that he could take over the club.
    • In "In Praise of Pip", Max Phillips has been working as a bookie for the gangster Moran for 20 years.
  • Magical Seventh Son: In "Still Valley", the Confederate soldier Sgt. Joseph Paradine met an old man named Teague who had magical powers because he was the seventh son of a seventh son of a seventh son. He also made a Deal with the Devil to use Black Magic.
  • Make Them Rot:
    • In "One for the Angels", Death proves his identity to Lou Bookman by touching a flower, which dies instantly.
    • In "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank", the fresh roses that the title character picks for Comfort Gatewood die within minutes of his touching them. This causes her to worry that the townsfolk's fears that Jeff Came Back Wrong may be justified.
  • Mandatory Twist Ending: The Twist Ending was a major staple of the series that earned the show a reputation for this, though it wasn't quite as "mandatory" as it's remembered as being.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: In "The Last Night of a Jockey", Michael Grady's alter ego typically talks to him through his mirror. He claims to live inside his head and to be his conscience. He is not identical to Grady, as is normally the case with reflections, but is notably tidier and better dressed. The alter ego represents the better parts of Grady's nature.
  • Manly Tears: In "Five Characters in Search of an Exit", the major begins to cry after his numerous attempts to escape the strange room fail. He is also no closer to figuring out what is going on. The ballet dancer comforts him.
  • Married to the Job: In "Passage on the Lady Anne", Alan Ransome has paid considerably more attention to his job as a financier than his marriage to Eileen over the course of the last six years. As it had gotten to the point that they barely saw or spoke to each other, Eileen arranged the voyage on the Lady Anne and the trip to London in order to save their troubled marriage.
  • Master Computer:
    • In "From Agnes - With Love", Agnes is the most advanced and powerful computer in existence that is being used by the US government to determine the feasibility of sending a probe to Venus.
    • In "The Brain Center at Whipple's", the computer X109B14 takes over the operation of Wallace V. Whipple's manufacturing plant.
  • Matter of Life and Death: "Perchance to Dream".
  • Matter Replicator: In "Valley of the Shadow", the citizens of Peaceful Valley, New Mexico can replicate any object provided that they have its atomic structure on file. Dorn demonstrates this to Philip Redfield by replicating a ham sandwich on white bread with mustard. Philip later uses it to create a .38 special.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • "The Thirty-Fathom Grave." Early on in the episode, Doc finds seaweed in the corridor where Bell claims to have seen the ghosts of his dead comrades. Additionally, one trip to the submarine reveals that a piece of the ship swinging loose could have been responsible for the banging noises...but it also reveals that one of the dead sailors was holding a hammer.
    • In "The New Exhibit", a passionate (and slightly unhinged) man named Martin Senescu takes care of wax figures of famous killers in his basement after the wax museum where he works closes down. He firmly believes that they're alive, which disturbs his wife, brother-in-law, and former boss. All three end up being killed, apparently by the figures—but the ending suggests that it was actually Senescu committing the murders, and simply imagining the figures did it as a coping mechanism. It's not clear which is true.
    • "The Fever": The events of most of the episode could be explained by Mr. Gibbs becoming increasingly unhinged through obsession and lack of sleep. Subverted at the end when the slot machine moves after his death.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • In "Mr. Denton on Doomsday", the peddler who gives Al Denton the gun and later the potion is named Henry J. Fate.
    • In "The Obsolete Man", the librarian Romney Wordsworth is declared obsolete by the state as all books are banned.
    • In "The Hunt", Hyder Simpson's dog is named Rip, as in RIP. This foreshadows the revelation that the two of them have been Dead All Along.
    • In "Jess-Belle", the title character Jess-Belle Stone is named after Jezebel from the Books of Kings. Furthermore, Jess-Belle obtains a Love Potion from Granny Hart.
    • In "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", Mr. Hecate is named after the Greek goddess Hecate, who is associated with witches and crossroads. William J. Feathersmith is transported back in time to his home town of Cliffordville, Indiana in 1910 by the Devil and proceeds to alter his personal history, meaning that Cliffordville represents a crossroads in his life.
    • In "Living Doll", Talky Tina protects Christie Streator from her verbally abusive stepfather Erich. Both Tina and Christie are nicknames for Christina.
    • In "Number 12 Looks Just Like You", two of the women who underwent the Number 12 transformation, as Lana did, are named Jane and Doe. This refers to the fact that the people of this society are all beautiful and therefore essentially anonymous as they lack individuality. Furthermore, the second psychiatrist that Marilyn Cuberle sees is named Professor Sigmund Friend.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: In "The Rip Van Winkle Caper", a group of gold thieves put themselves to sleep for 100 years to escape the cops, only to start backstabbing and killing each other off once they awaken, just so they can hoard the gold for themselves. And then it turns out in the future, gold is worthless. Fittingly, the last of them dies begging a nearby driver for water in exchange for a bar of gold, much to the driver's confusion.
  • Mechanistic Alien Culture: Many episodes of the classic sci-fi anthology featured aliens with ambiguously robotic characteristics. "Mr. Dingle, the Strong", for example, featured one with two heads.
  • Meet Cute: In "The Long Morrow", Commander Douglas Stansfield and Sandra Horn meet when she drops her papers and he helps her to pick them up.
  • Mental Time Travel: In the final scene of "Static", the bitter bachelor Ed Lindsay is sent back in time in 1940 so that he can marry Vinnie Brown. Not marrying her when he had the opportunity is the biggest mistake of his life.
  • Me's a Crowd: In "The Mind and the Matter", Archibald Beechcroft eventually hits on the idea of creating a world full of Beechcrofts using his ability to manipulate reality but he quickly discovers that a lot of him is as bad as a lot of everyone else.
  • Mexican Stand Off: In "Two", the man and woman find discarded weapons and briefly point them at each other in spite of their attempts to get along.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: In "A Penny for Your Thoughts", Hector B. Poole discovers how petty and self-centered the people around him can be when he becomes inexplicably psychic. It's not as bad as some cases (and it helps him get the girl, Helen Turner), but he's still relieved when his newfound power vanishes.
  • Mind over Matter:
    • In "The Prime Mover", Jimbo Cobb has possessed the power of telekinesis all of his life. When he was young, he assumed that everyone had this ability. He stopped using his ability as it frequently got him into trouble in school and gave him headaches. He is forced to reveal it when a car turns over outside of the Happy Daze Café, which he owns with his friend Ace Larson, and there is no other way to save the people inside. Ace sees the possibilities of Jimbo's power and the two of them take a trip to Las Vegas, where Jimbo uses his ability to move the dice as Ace pleases.
    • In "Black Leather Jackets", Scott, Steve and Fred have telekinetic powers.
  • Mind Rape: In "It's a Good Life", Aunt Amy was the only person who could exercise any control over Anthony Fremont, until she offended him by singing in his presence and his mind "snapped" at her. She's left as a shell of her former self, smiling vacantly and no longer watching how she acts or what she says around Anthony.
  • Minimalist Cast:
    • Earl Holliman is the only actor to appear in "Where Is Everybody?" until the last five minutes.
    • "Perchance to Dream" only features three credited actors: Richard Conte, John Larch and Suzanne Lloyd.
    • "A World of His Own" only features three actors: Keenan Wynn, Phyllis Kirk and Mary LaRoche.
    • Robert Cummings is the only actor to appear in "King Nine Will Not Return" until the last five minutes.
    • Only two actors appear in "Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room": Joe Mantell and William D. Gordon, who only appears in two scenes.
    • "A Most Unusual Camera" only features four credited actors: Fred Clark, Jean Carson, Adam Williams and Marcel Hillaire.
    • Agnes Moorehead is the only actor to appear on screen in "The Invaders". The director Douglas Heyes has a voice over cameo as one of the "tiny" astronauts in the final scene.
    • As the title would suggest, "Two" features only two actors: Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery.
    • Jack Klugman and Jonathan Winters are the only credited actors to appear in "A Game of Pool". An uncredited female actress has a brief voice over role in the two scenes set in the afterlife.
    • "Nothing in the Dark" features only three actors: Gladys Cooper, Robert Redford and R.G. Armstrong.
    • The only credited actors to appear in "Little Girl Lost" are Sarah Marshall, Robert Sampson and Charles Aidman. Although they are uncredited, Tracy Stratford and Rhoda Williams nevertheless play prominent roles.
    • Mickey Rooney is the only actor to appear in "The Last Night of a Jockey".
    • "Uncle Simon" only features three credited actors: Cedric Hardwicke, Constance Ford and Ian Wolfe. Vic Perrin is uncredited as the voice of the robot.
    • "Probe 7, Over and Out" only features four credited actors: Richard Basehart, Antoinette Bower, Harold Gould and Barton Heyman.
    • "A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain" only features three credited actors: Patrick O'Neal, Ruta Lee and Walter Brooke.
    • Collin Wilcox, Richard Long, Pamela Austin and Suzy Parker are the only actors to appear in "Number 12 Looks Just Like You". With the exception of Wilcox, they all play multiple roles.
    • "Night Call" only features three credited actors: Gladys Cooper, Nora Marlowe and Martine Bartlett. The voice of an uncredited male actor is heard in several scenes.
    • Martin Landau, John Van Dreelen and Bob Kelljan are the only actors to appear in "The Jeopardy Room".
    • "Stopover in a Quiet Town" only features two credited actors: Barry Nelson and Nancy Malone.
    • Neville Brand and George Takei are the only actors to appear in "The Encounter".
    • "Come Wander With Me" only features four actors: Gary Crosby, Bonnie Beecher, Jonathan Bolt and Hank Patterson.
    • Peter Mark Richman and Hazel Court are the only credited actors to appear in "The Fear".
  • Mirror Universe: In "Mirror Image", Millicent Barnes speculates that the appearance of her Doppelgänger at the bus terminal is due to the normal universe converging with an alternate universe and that her doppelgänger must eliminate her in order to remain in the normal universe. Paul Grinstead later learns that she is right.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: In "You Drive", Pete Radcliff is arrested for killing Timmy Danbers in the hit-and-run accident caused by his co-worker Oliver Pope as a witness named Muriel Hastings misidentified him. His alibi is that he was at home with his wife and children at the time of the accident. Pope is initially delighted both because he thinks that he has gotten away with it and because he dislikes Pete but his car eventually forces him to confess to his crime.
  • Missed the Call: In "Kick the Can", Ben Conroy's failure to step out of his comfort zone, even for a moment, and play kick-the-can bars him forever from joining the other Sunnyvale Rest Home residents and becoming young again.
  • Missing Reflection:
    • In "And When the Sky Was Opened", Colonel Clegg Forbes realizes that he is about to disappear when he sees that he no longer has a reflection.
    • In "A Passage for Trumpet", Joey Crown discovers that he does not have a reflection when he looks into the mirror at the cinema. It is later revealed that this is because he is a state of limbo between life and death.
    • In "Nothing in the Dark", Wanda Dunn's suspicion that Harold Beldon is Death is confirmed when he tells her to look in the mirror and she sees that he has no reflection.
  • Misspelling Out Loud: In "The Mighty Casey", the Hoboken Zephyrs manager Mouth McGarry tells the robot pitcher Casey's creator Dr. Stillman never to say the word "R-O-B-B-O-T-T" as he doesn't want anyone else to find out.
  • Mistaken from Behind: In "A World of Difference", Arthur Curtis mistakes a little girl for his daughter Tina from behind.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: In the first scene of "Once Upon a Time", Woodrow Mulligan is walking through the Harmony town square on March 10, 1890 and complains about the high prices of sirloin steak (17c per lb) and ladies' hats ($1.95). The speed limit for bicycles is then shown as being eight miles per hour.
  • Mobile Kiosk:
    • In "One for the Angels", Lou Bookman has a mobile pitch: a suitcase with extendable legs. When he finishes a pitch, he collapses the legs back into the suitcase and moves on.
    • In "What You Need", Pedott has a similar setup.
  • Momma's Boy: In "Young Man's Fancy", Alex Walker had an incredibly close relationship with his mother Henrietta growing up, seemingly because his father abandoned them only two months after he was born. He was so completely devoted to her that Virginia Lane had to wait twelve years, including a year after Henrietta's death, before they could marry. Alex's love for his mother is so strong that he becomes a young boy again and Henrietta's ghost returns to mother him once again.
  • Monochrome Casting: In an inversion of the usual application of this trope in 1960, all of the actors with speaking roles in "The Big Tall Wish", with the exception of Walter Burke, are African-Americans. It is especially notable as the episode did not concern racial issues.
  • Mood Whiplash: "A Kind of a Stopwatch" is a very funny episode until the watch breaks, trapping McNulty in a timeless world forever.
  • Motor Mouth: In "A Kind of a Stopwatch", everything that comes out Patrick Thomas McNulty mouth is a never-ending plethora of trivial ideas and banal observations, peppered with "You think about that, now." As such, no one can stand to be around him and most of them tell him as much to his face.
  • Muggle Sports, Super Athletes: In "The Fugitive", while playing softball with Jenny and other neighborhood children, Ben uses his alien abilities to hit the ball over the fence with little to no effort.
  • Multigenerational Household: In "Ninety Years Without Slumbering", Sam Forstmann lives with his granddaughter Marnie Kirk, who is expecting a baby, and her husband Doug.
  • Multiple Head Case: In "Mr. Dingle, the Strong", the Martian scientist's two heads each have their own personality. They seem to get along well.
  • The Multiverse: In "The Parallel", Major Robert Gaines discovers that he has accidentally stumbled into a parallel world with a similar chronology to his own.
  • Mundane Wish: In "The Man in the Bottle", Arthur and Edna Curtis' first wish (out of four) is to have a pane of glass in their shop repaired, in order to test the genie's power first. The couple then proceeds to waste their remaining wishes, but in the end console themselves with the thought that at least the glass got repaired. Arthur then accidentally breaks the pane with the end of his sweeping brush. He and Edna begin laughing.
  • Mundane Utility: In "The Prime Mover", Ace Larson employs Jimbo Cobb's telekinesis to help him win at gambling.
  • Murder Ballad: In "Come Wander With Me", the titular song tells the story of Floyd Burney accidentally killing Billy Rayford and being killed himself by Billy's three brothers out of revenge. Floyd believes that it is a scam devised by Mary Rachel and the Rayfords.
  • Murderous Mannequin: Subverted in "The After Hours"; Marsha White is, at first, understandably terrified when the mannequins come to life, but it soon becomes apparent that they are friendly, and only want her to remember that she is also a mannequin.
  • My Beloved Smother: In "Miniature", Charley Parkes' overbearing mother treats him as if he were a child, even untying his shoes for him when he prepares to go to bed. His sister Myra Russell tells him that he is living the same way that he did when he was 14 years old even though he is in his 30s. She believes that it is sick and partly blames their mother for the fact that Charley is socially underdeveloped.
  • My Car Hates Me:
    • In "A Thing About Machines", Bartlett Finchley is chased by his car, which corrals him to his pool and pushes him in. He quickly sinks to the bottom and drowns.
    • In "You Drive", Oliver Pope is distracted while driving and kills a young neighborhood boy named Timmy Danbers in a hit-and-run accident. His car soon begins to behave strangely, honking its horn and turning on its lights by itself. When Oliver's wife Lilian later attempts to drive it, the car drives itself to the scene of the accident. The car eventually tries to run Oliver down but stops at the last moment. It then opens its passenger door, instructing Oliver to get in, and drives him to the police station so that he can confess.
  • My Greatest Failure: In "The Arrival", the disappearance of Flight 107 is the only case that the FAA investigator Grant Sheckly was never able to solve in 22 years on the job. He was so traumatized by his failure that he repressed his memory of the case.

     N 
  • Named by the Adaptation:
    • In "Perchance to Dream", the girl in the dream and the psychiatrist are named Maya and Dr. Elliot Rathmann respectively. Neither character is given a name in the short story by Charles Beaumont.
    • In "The Four of Us Are Dying", the con man who can voluntary shapeshift is named Arch Hammer. In the short story "All of Us Are Dying" by George Clayton Johnson, his name is not given. He has spent so much of his life imitating other people that he has forgotten his real name.
    • In "Third from the Sun", the people who escape their planet before a nuclear war begins are named William, Eve and Jody Sturka and Jerry and Ann Riden. The short story by Richard Matheson is a Nameless Narrative.
    • In "The Chaser", the potion seller is named Professor A. Daemon. In the short story by John Collier, he is not given a name.
    • In "Shadow Play", the dreamer's name is Adam Grant. In the short story "Traumerei" by Charles Beaumont, he is not given a name.
    • In "It's a Good Life", Anthony Fremont's mother is named Agnes. In the short story by Jerome Bixby, her first name is not given.
    • In "Little Girl Lost", Chris, Ruth and Tina's surname is Miller. In the short story by Richard Matheson, their surname is not given.
    • In "Four O'Clock", the protagonist is named Oliver Crangle. In the short story by Price Day, his first name is not given.
    • In "Death Ship", the respective first names of Captain Ross and Lt. Mason are Paul and Ted. In the short story by Richard Matheson, their first names are not given.
    • In "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", the stewardess' name is Betty Crosby. In the short story by Richard Matheson, she is not named.
    • In "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross", Albert's surname is Rowe. In the short story by Henry Slesar, his surname is not given.
    • In "Number 12 Looks Just Like You", Marilyn Cuberle's father's name is Jack. In the short story "The Beautiful People" by Charles Beaumont, his first name is not given.
  • Nameless Narrative: None of the characters in "Five Characters in Search of an Exit" are given names.
  • Napoleon Delusion:
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name:
    • In "Eye of the Beholder", the Leader is based on Adolf Hitler. In his speech, he continually stresses the importance of ensuring "glorious conformity" and abiding by a single norm. He says that all that is different must be cut out like a cancerous filth as differences weaken the state.
    • In "The Obsolete Man", the State is based on various totalitarian regimes. In his opening narration, Rod Serling says that "it has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time." The Chancellor himself says that the State had predecessors who had the right idea such as Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin but they did not go far enough in eliminating the undesirables such as the elderly, the sick, the maimed and the deformed.
  • Nazi Protagonist:
    • "Death's Head Revisited" centered around a former concentration camp officer at Dachau who revisits the camp to relive his happy memories of the many atrocities he committed during the war. He eventually receives karmic justice from the souls of his victims.
    • In "He's Alive", the protagonist Peter Vollmer is an American Nazi who becomes increasingly popular thanks to guidance from a mysterious advisor. Since said advice includes murdering one of his own followers to create a martyr, justice catches up with him too.
    • The Reveal of "Judgment Night" is that the protagonist Carl Lanser was one of these all along.
  • Never My Fault: In "Spur of the Moment", Anne Mitchell blames her late father John Henderson for spoiling her when she was growing up and giving her everything that she wanted instead of making her earn it. She then accuses him of failing to teach her things such as judgement and discrimination. Anne believes that this led directly to her marriage to David, who proved to be a terrible businessman and an even worse husband. By blaming her father, Anne is ignoring the fact that both he and her mother had wanted her to marry the far more responsible and reliable Robert Blake. Her father had always hated David as he could tell what kind of person he was.
  • Newspaper Dating: In "A Hundred Yards over the Rim", Chris Horn, who is from 1847, realizes that he is in the future when he sees a calendar dated 1961 in Joe's diner.
  • Next Sunday A.D.:
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: In "Showdown with Rance McGrew", whereas the fictional Marshal Rance McGrew is extremely courageous and never hesitates in the face of danger, the actor of the same name turns up late for work, snaps at the director and other members of the crew at every opportunity and demands that a stuntman be used for even the simplest scenes.
  • Nice Shoes: In "Dead Man's Shoes", Dane wore a very expensive and distinctive pair of two-tone black and white shoes before he was murdered. When Nate Bledsoe puts them on, Dane's personality takes over his body. After Dagget kills Dane, the same thing happens again when Chips puts on the shoes.
  • The Night That Never Ends: In "I am the Night - Color Me Black", the Sun fails to rise over a small town on the morning that a wrongfully convicted man, Jagger, is due to be executed. This is caused by the prevalence of hate in the community. It becomes even darker after he is executed. A radio report indicates that the same thing has happened in North Vietnam, a section of the Berlin Wall, Chicagonote , a street in Dallas, Birmingham, Alabama and Shanghai, all places where hate abounds.
  • No Antagonist: Many episodes.
  • No Bikes in the Apocalypse: In "The Old Man in the Cave", the residents of the Village use dilapidated cars drawn by horses.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • In "The Mirror", Ramos Clemente is a not-so-subtle Expy of Fidel Castro while Tabal's appearance is clearly based on that of Che Guevara. The entire episode, which was made between the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, is one long Take That! at Castro. In his closing narration, Rod Serling even says that "any resemblance to tyrants living or dead is hardly coincidental." Funnily enough, General De Cruz mentions both Castro and his predecessor General Fulgencio Batista, the former right-wing dictator of Cuba on whom De Cruz himself is based, in the first scene.
    • In "The Bard", Rocky Rhodes, a temperamental Method actor who is well known for starring in A Streetcar Named Desire, is a parody of Marlon Brando. William Shakespeare is disgusted by his manner and appearance and punches him when Rhodes asks him what he has against Stanislavski. In playing the character, Burt Reynolds imitated Brando's distinctive voice and speech patterns.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction:
    • In "A Nice Place to Visit", an inveterate criminal named Rocky Valentine dies and goes to the afterlife: a pleasant place where he gets everything he wants and all his gambles always pay off. He becomes dissatisfied and asks to be sent to The Other Place, saying he doesn't belong in Heaven. The reply he gets: "Whatever gave you the idea you were in Heaven, Mr. Valentine? This is the other place!"
    • In "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", William J. Feathersmith has become extremely bored with his position of wealth and power as the thrill was in the acquisition rather than the possession. He makes a Deal with the Devil to be transported back in time to Cliffordville, Indiana in 1910 so that he can relive his glory days and use his knowledge of the future to become even wealthier.
  • No-Dialogue Episode:
    • Throughout "The Invaders", the main character makes plenty of noises as she fends off tiny aliens, but none of it is dialogue. Aside from Serling's narrations, the only spoken dialogue comes when the last and soon-to-be-killed invader sends a distress call back home. The tiny invaders are then revealed to be humans from Earth. This revelation subsequently justifies the trope, as the woman is a (giant) alien and wouldn't know English or any other language from Earth.
    • "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" - actually an unrelated, Academy Award-winning French short film that Serling purchased the rights to and had re-edited into an episode - also contains virtually no dialogue beyond Serling's narration.
  • No Ending: In "The Odyssey of Flight 33", we never learn whether the titular plane is able to return to 1961.
  • No Immortal Inertia: "Long Live Walter Jameson". A man lives more than 2,000 years due to drinking a alchemical potion of immortality. When he's shot and mortally wounded, the effect wears off and he ages into dust in minutes.
  • No Name Given: In "Eye of the Beholder", none of the characters other than Janet Tyler, Doctor Bernardi and Walter Smith are given names.
  • Non-Specifically Foreign: In "The Shelter", after the crisis begins, Frank Henderson is continually racist towards the foreign-born Marty Weiss, describing him as a "pushy, grabby, semi-American" and later refers to "you and your kind." However, it is never stated what country Marty is from.
  • No Time to Explain: In "Passage on the Lady Anne", it turns out that the traveling on the titular ship is only meant for people who are dying or want to die.
  • Nostalgia Filter:
    • In "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", Corrupt Corporate Executive William J. Feathersmith makes a Deal with the Devil to go back in time and relive his life, in order to enjoy once again the climb from a nobody to a tyrannical titan of industry. However, things in his youth weren't exactly as nice as he remembered. For example, he forgets that vaccines weren't invented at that time, the streets are still unpaved, and the girl he reminisced about was nowhere near as attractive or charming as he remembered. This is on top of all the other mistakes he makes...
    • In "The Incredible World of Horace Ford", the title character almost obsessively recalls his seemingly idyllic childhood playing with his friends on Randolph Street. In reality, Randolph Street was a crime-ridden ghetto and his friends beat him up after he didn't invite them to his birthday party.
  • Not So Different: In "The Mirror", it becomes apparent throughout the episode that there is little difference between the revolutionary Ramos Clemente and General De Cruz, the previous dictator whom he overthrew. De Cruz himself realizes this when he is brought before Clemente.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: In all these cases, it is a Not-So-Imaginary Enemy.
    • In "The Fever", everyone believes that Franklin Gibbs is merely hallucinating when he claims that a slot machine keeps calling his name. It chases him towards a window and he falls to his death. The slot machine then approaches him and spits out his last dollar before disappearing into the night.
    • In "Mirror Image", Paul Grinstead believes that Millicent Barnes' claim that she is being pursued by her Doppelgänger from a Mirror Universe is nothing more than a hallucination and calls the police so that they can get her the help that she needs. As soon as Millicent leaves, Paul sees his own doppelgänger and realizes that Millicent was telling the truth.
    • In "The Dummy", Jerry Etherson is absolutely convinced that his dummy Willie is alive but he cannot make his agent Frank believe him. It turns out that Jerry's fears were justified as he and Willie later switch places.
    • In the final scene of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", it is revealed that the gremlin on the wing of the plane seen by Bob Wilson was real all along as one of the engines has been badly damaged.
    • In "Living Doll", Annabelle Streator believes that her husband Erich is claiming that Talky Tina is alive and threatening to kill him because he hates her and her daughter Christie. She tells him to see a psychiatrist. Erich later trips over Tina on the stairs and falls to his death. When Annabelle finds his body, Tina says to her "I'm Talky Tina...and you better to be nice to me." Annabelle then realizes that Erich was right all along.
    • In "Caesar and Me", Jonathan West's ventriloquist's dummy Caesar has a mind of his own and uses his influence over Jonathan to convince him to commit various robberies. He later abandons him by refusing to speak in front of others so that it appears that Jonathan is insane and entirely to blame for the crime spree.

     O-P 
  • Oddball in the Series:
    • The first season finale "A World of His Own" marked the first time thst Rod Serling appeared on screen, but at the end, not the beginning. It's also the only time that Serling is a character in the story interacting with the other characters.
    • "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is a French silent film adaptation of the classic Ambrose Bierce story, which Serling acquired and ran on American television as a Twilight Zone episode, with only a few minor edits.
  • One Character, Multiple Lives: In "A World of Difference", Arthur Curtis finds himself switching between two worlds - one where he's a normal businessman and another where he's an alcoholic actor named Gerry Raigan who's playing the role of businessman Arthur Curtis in the film The Private World of Arthur Curtis.
  • One-Gender Race: In "Mr. Dingle, the Strong", one Martian notes that one of the three planets on their itinerary after Earth seems particularly interesting, since it contains only females.
  • One-Gender School: In "The Changing of the Guard", Professor Ellis Fowler teaches at Rock Spring School for Boys.
  • One-Word Title: "Elegy", "Execution", "Dust", "Static", "Two", "Mute", "Miniature" and "Steel".
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: In "Steel", Kelly is known by the nickname Steel as he was never beaten during his boxing career. His first name is never revealed.
  • On One Condition:
    • In "A Game of Pool", Fats Brown agrees to play one game of pool with Jesse Cardiff on condition that Jesse will die if he loses. Although he is initially reluctant, Jesse accepts.
    • In "The Masks", Jason Foster tells his daughter and her family that unless they wear the Mardi Gras masks he has made for them until midnight, their inheritance when he dies will consist solely of train fare back to their home in Boston.
    • In "Uncle Simon", Barbara Polk is told she has inherited her misanthropic uncle Simon's entire estate, as long as she sells none of it and looks after his last invention: a robot which gradually takes on his personality, and eventually speaks in his voice.
  • On the Next: Each episode ends with Rod Serling telling the audience about the next episode. For season four, clips from the episodes were also shown.
  • Ontological Inertia: In "Back There", during a discussion about traveling back to time to the day before the Wall Street Crash, Peter Corrigan argues that history cannot be changed as the events of October 24, 1929 are a part of established history. When he is sent back in time himself, he learns that some things can in fact be changed. Peter was unable to prevent Lincoln's assassination but inadvertently changes history in a more minor way. The police officer who believed his story made a name for himself for seemingly predicting the assassination. As a result, he became Chief of Police, a councilman and a millionaire after investing in real estate. In the original history, his great-grandson William was an attendant at the Potomac Club but a member of the club in the altered history.
  • Ontological Mystery: "Where Is Everybody?", "Judgment Night", "Five Characters in Search of an Exit", and "Stopover in a Quiet Town" all deal with the protagonists awakening in strange environments under mysterious circumstances, then trying to figure out where they are and how they got there.
  • Open-Door Opening: During the fourth and fifth seasons.
  • Opening Narration: Over the course of the series, five different opening narrations were used in the title sequence:
    • The first was used from "Where is Everybody?" to "A Passage for Trumpet".
      "There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to Man. It is a dimension as vast as space, and as timeless as infinity. It is the middleground between light and shadow, between science and superstition; and it lies between the pit of Man's fears, and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call...the Twilight Zone."
    • The second was used from "Mr. Bevis" to "A World of His Own", the final four episodes of Season One.
      "You are about to enter another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!"
    • The third was used in Season Two.
      "You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Twilight Zone!"
    • The fourth was used in Season Three.
      "You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!"
    • The fifth was used in Seasons Four and Five.
      "You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone."
  • Our Genies Are Different: In "I Dream of Genie", the genie is an obnoxious loudmouth who smokes a cigar and dresses in contemporary clothes with the exception of "velveteen mukluks." He also offers George P. Hanley only one wish instead of the usual three.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different:
    • In "A Game of Pool", Fats Brown comes down from the afterlife as soon as Jesse inadvertently challenges him to a pool game. Jesse beats Fats and, after he dies, he has to return to Earth every time that he is challenged, having become trapped in a kind of Ironic Hell.
    • In "Showdown with Rance McGrew", Jesse James returns to Earth to tell Rance McGrew that he, his brother Frank, Billy the Kid, Sam Starr and the Dalton brothers, among others, are angry at the inaccurate way in which they are depicted in his show. He eventually assumes the role of McGrew's agent to ensure that the series is more accurate from now on.
    • In "Young Man's Fancy", Henrietta Walker's ghost is summoned by her son Alex's strong desire to return to his supposedly idyllic childhood instead of having to face life as a grown man.
    • In "The Changing of the Guard", the ghosts of seven of Professor Ellis Fowler's former students, Artie Beechcroft, Bartlett, Dickie Weiss, Thompson, Rice, Hudson and Whiting, appear to him in order to prevent him from committing suicide. They tell him that his teachings inspired them as he taught them about patriotism, courage, loyalty, ethics and honesty.
    • In "He's Alive", the ghost of Adolf Hitler appears to Peter Vollmer in order to help his small, ineffectual neo-Nazi group to grow and gain influence.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger:
  • Our Zombies Are Different: In "Mr. Garrity and the Graves", the resurrected former inhabitants of the Happiness, Arizona cemetery are completely cognizant, capable of talking and seek revenge on the people who originally killed them.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • In "Long Distance Call", Grandma Bayles lost two children before her son Chris was born. She never forgave Chris for marrying Sylvia and leaving her. Part of the reason that she was so attached to her grandson Billy was that he reminded her of her first two children.
    • In "Mute", Harry and Cora Wheeler's daughter Sally drowned at some point before Ilsa Nielsen came to live with them.
    • In "Death Ship", Lt. Ted Mason's daughter Jeannie was killed in a car accident, as was his wife Ruth.
  • Parental Neglect: In "The Bewitchin' Pool", Gloria and Gil Sharewood are both extremely self-obsessed and show their children Sport and Jeb no affection. Gloria has to prompt Gil to dive for the kids when they vanish into the pool. She only worries about them once it looks like they might have drowned.
  • Parenting the Husband: In "A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain", there is a very literal application of this trope. Harmon Gordon takes an experimental youth serum developed by his brother Raymond so that he can be the husband that his unfeeling wife Flora, who is 40 years younger than him, wants. However, he regresses to a toddler within hours. Raymond, who despises Flora for ruining Harmon's life, tells her that she will have to raise Harmon and take care of him if she wants access to his money. He threatens to throw her out on the street with nothing but the clothes on her back if she even hires a nanny or governess to take care of Harmon.
  • Parody Assistance: Serling played a dual role in The Jack Benny Program's TZ spoof, appearing both As Himself and as the mayor of the actual Twilight Zone.
  • Peggy Sue: In "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", the 75-year-old Corrupt Corporate Executive William J. Feathersmith makes a Deal with the Devil to be transported back in time to his home town of Cliffordville, Indiana in 1910 as a young man with all of his memories intact.
  • People Zoo: In "People Are Alike All Over", the inhabitants of the planet Mars put the Earth astronaut Sam Conrad in a house that acts as a zoo habitat.
  • The Perils of Being the Best: This theme was explored in several episodes.
    • "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" shows us Retired Gunfighter Al Denton, who took the lives of so many challengers who wanted to defeat him and claim his title of Fastest Gun in the West that it psychologically broke him and turned him into a washed up drunk. When he regains his gunfighter abilities, he has to go through it all for a second time against a new set of challengers. When his hand is crippled at the end of the episode so that he'll never be able to use a gun again, he considers it a blessing.
    • "A Game of Pool" throughly deconstructs this trope. Jesse Cardiff, a pool shark praised as the best living player, complains that no matter what he does, he'll never be as good as "Fats" Brown, a deceased legend. Fats arrives from the afterlife to play a game which will determine which of them is truly the best. As they do, they discuss what it means to excel at something—Fats points out that while he's only a pool player, he's the greatest pool player, which allows him pride. The ending, though, reveals that whoever holds that title is forced to spend his or her entire afterlife defending it from those who want to try for it, until someone else defeats the champ. Serling sums it up when he remarks that "being the best of anything carries with it a special obligation to keep on proving it."
  • Perpetual Frowner: In "A Piano in the House", the butler Marvin never smiles to the point that Fitzgerald Fortune considers firing him because he finds his presence depressing. However, the piano reveals that Marvin is a very happy person who often has to stop himself from laughing at Fortune when he has one of his tantrums.
  • Persecuted Intellectuals:
    • In "Time Enough at Last", everyone looks down on and picks on Henry Bemis (Burgess Meredith) for being a reader.
    • In "The Obsolete Man", Romney Wordsworth, the librarian (also played by Burgess Meredith) is considered obsolete, as books have been banned.
  • Pet's Homage Name: In "I Dream of Genie", George P. Hanley's dog Attila is named after Attila the Hun.
  • Phone Call from the Dead:
    • In "Long Distance Call", soon after her death, Grandma Bayles begins calling her beloved five-year-old grandson Billy on his toy telephone and implores him to commit suicide so that they be Together in Death.
    • In "Night Call", Miss Elva Keene begins receiving strange phone calls on a stormy night. She initially can't hear anything on the other end of the line but she later hears moaning and eventually a man saying "hello" over and over again. When the phone company investigates, they discover that the phoneline was damaged during the storm and it is resting on a grave in Valley View Cemetery. The grave is that of Elva's fiancé Brian Douglas.
  • Pilot Movie: In 1958, Rod Serling wrote a teleplay ("The Time Element") which he hoped to turn into a weekly anthology series. It's often included in the series' canon as its lost pilot episode.
  • Playing with Fire: In "It's a Good Life", it is mentioned that Anthony set Teddy Reynolds on fire for thinking mean thoughts about him.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: A rare non-dying example occurs at the end of "A Piano in the House". The titular instrument reveals that Jerkass Fitzgerald Fortune's cruelty is simply a mask for his true persona: a misanthropic, frightened child terrified of the world and unable to react to others with anything but disgust and hatred. This revelation comes during a party, and all of the guests (including Fortune's wife) leave after Fortune's breakdown; he screams like a toddler, declaring that he doesn't want them to go and threatening to be "very naughty" if they do.
  • Polluted Wasteland: In "The Old Man in the Cave", in the aftermath of the nuclear war, large parts of Earth are contaminated with radiation. The Old Man told Mr. Goldsmith that the Village should not plant tomatoes. When they ignored this advice, the tomatoes that grew looked like rotten watermelons because of the radiation. Jason also mentions freak carrots.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: "Mr. Bevis" and "Cavender is Coming" were both intended as possible pilot episodes for a spin-off series about a Guardian Angel but it was never made.
  • Posthumous Character: In "Young Man's Fancy", Henrietta Walker died one year before her son Alex's marriage to Virginia Lane wedding but her presence pervades both her house and their lives. She eventually returns as a ghost.
  • The Power of Love: In "In Praise of Pip", Max Phillips' love for his son Pip, who has been severely injured in South Vietnam, leads him to make a Bargain with Heaven in order to exchange his life for Pip's. As Rod Serling expounds in his closing narration:
    Very little comment here, save for this small aside: that the ties of flesh are deep and strong; that the capacity to love is a vital, rich, and all-consuming function of the human animal. And that you can find nobility and sacrifice and love wherever you may seek it out: down the block, in the heart or in the Twilight Zone.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Episodes adapted from short stories were often massaged a bit. In Damon Knight's short story "To Serve Man", the alien representatives are described as looking like pigs. The producers thought the audience would find this too silly, so the alien makeup is the more conventional tall-head variety. (Ironically, another iconic episode, "Eye of the Beholder", did feature characters wearing pig-like masks.)
  • Prestige Peril: The episode "The Man in the Bottle" has a man wish to be the leader of a modern country who cannot be voted out of position...only to find that he's Adolf Hitler, and it's the end of World War II.
  • Pretty in Mink: Some furs are worn in some episodes, such as "Twenty-Two", and especially in "A Nice Place to Visit" to show the supposed grand nature of the place.
  • Professional Gambler: In "The Trade-Ins", in the hope of winning enough money to afford a second procedure so that he and his wife Marie can both be young again, John Holt takes part in a high stakes poker game run by the professional gambler Mr. Farraday. He loses most of his money over several hands. Farraday is moved when he learns why John is playing and by the fact that he is desperate to have the procedure done due to the terrible pain that he is experiencing. John has three kings and hopes to win back the $5,000 that he lost. Although Farraday has three aces, he takes sympathy and allows John to win.
  • Professional Killer: In "The Jeopardy Room", both Commissar Vassiloff and his assistant Boris are professional assassins. Vassiloff, who claims to have killed 800 people, likes to kill his victims with artistry and subtlety to prevent himself from becoming bored. He considers himself the last of the imaginative executioners. On the other hand, Boris prefers to kill as quickly and efficiently as possible. As such, he simply wants to shoot the defector Major Ivan Kuchenko in the head at the earliest opportunity. Vassiloff regards this less imaginative approach as the impatience of the bourgeois.
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