11 timeless facts about the Twilight Zone
Image: Everett Collection
The show that introduced us to the fifth dimension has a seemingly infinite legacy that continues to this day. Through Rod Serling's brilliant writing and storytelling, viewers have been exposed to sensitive subjects and thought-provoking storylines for over half a century.
Set against paranormal and futuristic settings, The Twilight Zone has a timeless aura that still makes the show feel fresh, especially compared to today's selection of science-fiction programming.
Today is Twilight Zone Day, which we didn't make up with our imagination. It's a real holiday. So cross over with us, and find out some things you never knew about The Twilight Zone.
There were almost six dimensions.
While recording the opening to the pilot episode in 1959, Serling exclaimed there was a sixth dimension to explore. When a network executive overheard the introduction, he asked Serling what happened to the fifth dimension. Serling assumed there were already five dimensions, not four. Luckily, the mistake was corrected before the episode aired.
Image: Associated Press
Viewers sent in scripts.
If you were an amateur writer in the 1960s, or just a fan of the show, you could send in a script to be considered for an episode. In total, 14,000 scripts were sent in. Serling read about 500 of them, and absolutely none were made into an episode. Serling said only two were any good, but they didn't fit the format of the show.
Only one actor appeared in all five seasons.
Many actors have appeared multiple times on the program, but only one has the distinction of appearing in all five seasons. In total, Robert McCord appeared in 67 episodes, most of them as an extra.
One episode won an Oscar.
The anthology series won three Emmy Awards for its writing and cinematography, but it also won an Academy Award... sort of. When the budget was slashed for the show's fifth season, Serling resorted to an unusual cost-cutting measure. He paid $10,000 to purchase the French short film An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.
The silent film was a perfect fit for the show, and was subsequently broadcast as an episode in 1964. The previous year, the film had won an Oscar for Best Short Subject.
Serling's on-camera introductions started in season two.
Serling's famous on-camera introductions didn't start in earnest until the second season. During the first season, Serling only appeared on camera during the promotions for the next week's episode.
The Looney Toons parodied the series.
The Looney Toons and The Twilight Zone couldn't be more different, but the two franchises converged when Warner Brothers and DC Comics released The Looney Zone. The comic series parodied many of Serling's most classic episodes by using the Looney Tunes as the main characters.
'Star Trek' actors appeared on the series.
William Shatner appeared in two episodes, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" and "Nick of Time." Leonard Nimoy appeared as a soldier in the Philippines during WWII in the episode "A Quality of Mercy." George Takei played a Japanese-American man in the infamously banned episode "The Encounter."
The film was involved in an involuntary manslaughter case.
Warner Brothers adapted The Twilight Zone to the big screen in the early 1980s, with esteemed directors like Steven Spielberg and George Miller remaking some of the most famous episodes.
Unfortunately, a stunt helicopter crashed on set and killed an actor and two child actors. John Landis, the director of that sequence, was charged with involuntary manslaughter. After a nine month trial, a jury acquitted Landis in 1987. The director settled with the families of the deceased out of court.
Only one episode has a sequel.
Despite having two reboots in 1985 and 2002, The Twilight Zone only has one episode with a second part. The original series' season three episode "It's A Good Life" was turned into a sequel in the 21st-century reboot. Cloris Leachman and Bill Mumy reprised their respective roles of the mother and her mind-controlling son, making them the only two actors to appear in both the original and 2002 series.
Image: Warner Bros.
"Submitted for your approval" was only uttered three times.
The phrase that has become synonymous with the show was only uttered three times over the course of five seasons. Serling used the signature phrase in the introductions to the episodes "Cavender is Coming," "In Praise of Pip" and "A Certain Kind of Stopwatch."
A disco song samples the theme song.
The band Manhattan Transfer released the disco hit "Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone" in 1979, which opened with the famous high-pitched guitar riff that could be heard on every episode. The track reached the top 30 in the U.K.