The Twilight Zone is still considered one of the scariest and well-written TV shows of all time. It deals with mature themes and commentaries on society and blends them into well-crafted creepy and suspenseful stories that have terrified viewers from generation to generation.

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It was definitely ahead of its time and paved the way for other classic horror anthologies such as The Outer Limits, Tales From The Darkside, and Tales From The CryptThere have also been many revivals of the TV series, but nothing compares to the genius work of Rod Serling. Here are IMDB’s best-rated episodes of this classic series that continue to mesmerize viewers.

Updated on January 26th, 2022 by Melody MacReady: The Twilight Zone remains one of the most iconic television shows ever made and remains the pinnacle anthology show. Even when the series returned as reboots in 1985 and in 2019, they just did not have the same cultural impact that the original series by Rod Serling. As a result, it’s hard to only talk about only the top 10 episodes as there are so many more iconic episodes that deserve to be highlighted.

From horror stories to mysteries to character studies with a supernatural twist, each episode brings something new to the table even if it follows similar tropes of other episodes.

15 And When The Sky Was Opened (Season 1, Episode 11) – 8.4

Newspaper showing the returning astronauts in And When The Sky Was Opened from The Twilight Zone

Alternate realities and reality-shifting events are practically the bread and butter of The Twilight Zone. The episode titled, And When The Sky Was Opened is a prime example of the horror of such events as three astronauts return to Earth and are staying in a hospital.

Over the course of the episode, the three astronauts vanish and are forgotten from existence. Each disappearance is represented through a newspaper that changes with each shift. There is no direct explanation for these events, much like other episodes, which adds to horror as the astronauts slowly succumb to the event.

14 The Hitch-Hiker (Season 1, Episode 16) – 8.4

The hitchhiker trying to convince Nan to pick him up in The Hitch-Hiker of The Twilight Zone

The Hitch-Hiker plays on the rational fear of hitchhikers and the legitimate possibility of them being someone insidious. On a road trip across the country, a woman begins seeing a mysterious hitchhiker who keeps reappearing no matter how far she travels. The Hitch-Hiker fills every scene with an uneasiness using the titular villain.

He really never does anything all that menacing but his blank stare gives him a creepy vibe. This concept seemed to inspire Stephen King and George A. Romero as a similar story appears in their Creepshow 2. There is a great twist to the episode which is a staple of the series that hints towards the hitchhiker’s identity in a subtle but effective manner.


13 The Midnight Sun (Season 3, Episode 10) – 8.5

Norma holding a dead Mrs. Garber in The Midnight Sun of The Twilight Zone

Due to Earth changing paths, it is getting closer and closer to the sun leading to the heat gradually rising more and more. Immediately, the concept is something that feels somewhat realistic enough that can put anyone into a state of dread.  The episode follows two women in an apartment building, essentially slowly succumbing to the heat.

The Midnight Sun does a great job making it seem hot that it can make watching the episode feel uncomfortable. This is enhanced by commendable performances by Lois Nettleton and Betty Garde. By the end, the dark twist ending is actually a relief as much as it is disturbing.

12 “It’s A Good Life” (Season 3, Episode 8) – 8.6

A favorite among many viewers, this episode involves a little boy terrifying a small town with his special powers, leading everyone into doing exactly as he says. It helped establish the trope of powerful children as villains in horror, showing just how terrifying a kid can be.

Part of the creepiness of the episode is wondering where the boy sends people when they make him angry. It is stated that he sends them into the “cornfield,” but, what exactly does that mean? The ending is one of the scariest scenes of The Twilight Zone and solidifies the boy as one of the scariest characters from The Twilight Zone.

11 A Stop At Willoughby (Season 1, Episode 30) – 8.6

Gart speaking with the strange conductor in A Stop At Willoughby of The Twilight Zone

Where most episodes of The Twilight Zone deal with the surreal and the horrific, A Stop At Willoughby is mostly just a depressing story about an unhappy man. Gart is treated miserably by both his boss and his wife, leading to him being transported to a seemingly perfect town called Willoughby in the 1800s.

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Gart becomes infatuated with Willoughby and continues to see it whenever he falls asleep on a train. It’s easy to feel sympathetic for Gart, especially when it comes to the scenes with his wife. Nobody can blame him for wanting to live life in the serene town but like most episodes, it ends on a sour note that is both sad and thought-provoking.

10 Five Characters In Search Of An Exit (Season 3, Episode 14) – 8.6

The five strangers staring out of the room in Five Characters In Search Of An Exit of The Twilight Zone

Like many episodes of The Twilight ZoneFive Characters In Search Of An Exit focuses on a group of strangers in a single location. In this case, a major, a transient, a ballerina, a clown, and a bagpiper all wake up in a single circular room with no doors or windows or even any furniture.

Not only do they have no memory of who they are but no idea how they got in their situation. The result is a glimpse at how strangers react in such a claustrophobic nightmare with five delightfully memorable performances. However, this episode does feature a twist that, while strange, is a tad bit predictable due to the many clues it gives the viewer.

9 The Shelter (Season 3, Episode 3) – 8.7

A family hides in a fallout shelter after everyone believes a nuclear attack is about to occur. Friends and neighbors of the family try their best to break in so they can protect their own families, as well.

This episode shows how humans react to dangerous situations, and the final moments allow characters to realize how far they are willing to go in order to survive themselves. Filled with suspense, this episode is a highlight of a series and is entertaining from beginning to end.

8 “Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?” (Season 2, Episode 28) – 8.8

This fun mystery episode involves a group of people at a diner trying to figure out who among them is not who they say they are. In fact, they could be an extraterrestrial playing themselves off as a human. This episode is pure entertainment filled with suspense and a good mystery.

The dialogue and interactions between all the suspects are top-notch. It acts as a precursor to John Carpenter’s The Thing with the many memorable characters trying to figure out who is an imposter. The final moment itself is worth the watch.

7 The Masks (Season 5, Episode 25) – 8.8

People are more complex than they appear. People who seem sweet and innocent turn out to have a dark side, and others that make you cautious may be the sweetest people in the world.

This episode involves a dying man making sure the members of his family’s faces match the people they are on the inside. He makes them wear these creepy masks throughout the episode, and the final moment is one of the best endings of any episode of the series. The makeup effects, for the time, are top-notch, and the great performances by everyone in the cast make this episode a classic.

6 Living Doll (Season 5, Episode 6) – 8.9

Before Chucky terrified audiences everywhere in the Child’s Play franchise, there was “Talky Tina.” A mean stepfather gets what he deserves when his stepdaughter’s doll takes a turn from being cute to sinister. This suspenseful tale is considered one of the scariest episodes of The Twilight Zone, and rightfully so.

Creepy dolls have been around in TV and film for years, and this is one of the absolute best depictions of the concept. With a great performance by Kojaks Telly Savalas and voice-acting by June Foray, this episode is sure to make viewers think twice before letting their children play with dolls.

5 The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street (Season 1, Episode 22) – 9.0

Like “The Shelter,” this episode involves how friends and neighbors behave when they are put into a scary situation, and this may be the best example. Neighbors in a nice little suburb are driven into madness when they all fear each other, believing that an alien invasion is occurring.

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Viewers slowly watch as everyone in the cast is driven wild with fear and destruction on their minds. The moral of the story capitalizes on the fact that the only thing people need to fear is themselves.

4 Time Enough At Last (Season 1, Episode 8) – 9.1

Burgess Meredith stars in one of the first, and best, episodes of The Twilight Zone. Meredith plays an avid reader who simply wants peace and quiet so he can enjoy the wondrous and fascinating world of literature.

After an explosion causes him to be the only man alive on Earth, he finally has the time to read all the books he wants, or does he? This tragic tale has, arguably, the saddest ending in the history of The Twilight Zone, and Burgess Meredith’s performance is worth the watch itself.

3 To Serve Man (Season 3, Episode 24) – 9.1

To Serve Man has suspense, a unique mystery, a fun sci-fi premise, great performances, and a fantastic plot twist. Richard Kiel, perhaps best known for his role of Jaws, one of the most iconic James Bond villains, gives a great performance as one of the aliens coming to Earth and declaring they want to “serve” humans.

The makeup effects for the aliens are pretty well done for television of the era. The twist ending is iconic, and it is a great example of The Twilight Zone‘s wonderful writing.

2 Eye Of The Beholder (Season 2, Episode 6) – 9.2

When people think of The Twilight Zone, this is one of the most essential episodes. A woman recovering from surgery has bandages covering her whole face. She believes she is ugly, and she simply wants to look like everyone else.

The way the episode was shot was unique, as viewers do not see anyone’s face until the very end. The suspense and anticipation for the removal of the bandages are very well crafted, and the shocking ending makes this episode one of the most iconic episodes in TV history.

1 Nightmare At 20,000 Feet (Season 5, Episode 3) – 9.2

Encounter with the gremlin in Nightmare At 20000 Feet of The Twilight Zone

Even though season five was the final season, there were still many popular and well-made episodes being produced, and this is definitely one of them. William Shatner stars as a man constantly seeing a creature on the wing of an airplane during his flight.

It is one of the creepiest episodes of the series, so much so that it was given the remake treatment with Twilight Zone: The Movie from 1983. Filled with suspense and terror, this episode is a highlight of the series, and it has a clever jump scare thrown in there that is sure to make any viewer think twice before looking out the window.

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