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Seven Terrifying Twilight Zone Episodes That Will Keep You Up All Night

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If you've watched "The Twilight Zone", then you know that many of the episodes from its iconic anthology planted the seeds for what would become staples of the horror genre today. Dolls that have a life of their own, phone calls from beyond the grave, man breaking down in isolation, insane twists that you simply couldn't have seen coming (you know, if you hadn't already seen all of the derivative works, parodies, and homages already) - "The Twilight Zone" was ground breaking, and is an absolute must watch for any true horror fan.

If you've missed the TV marathons, or you haven't yet been indoctrinated into "The Twilight Zone", well then, that's exciting for you, because you're in for a real treat. While I would personally recommend binge watching the entire series (no really - it's that good), we've put together a list of some of the hands-down scariest episodes of "The Twilight Zone" that ever aired.

Don't think that just because the show originally aired between 1959 - 1964 that it somehow isn't scary - oh no - Rod Serling managed to capture true horror in a way that many wish they could today. Without any further ado, our top scariest episodes of "The Twilight Zone":

  • Twenty Two - Season 2, Episode 17 (Series Episode 53) - This one will definitely give you the heebie-jeebies. A young woman, Liz, is checked into a hospital to be treated for exhaustion - she's been having a recurring dream where a downright creepy man urges her to come in an elevator, saying (in the absolute creepiest tone ever, I might add) "Room for one more, honey" as he travels down to Room 22 in the basement - the hospital's morgue.

    The doctors assure her that it's all just a dream, and not to worry about it anymore - even though, as one particularly astute nurse points out - there's no way that Liz could possibly know that Room 22 is the morgue - she's never been to the hospital's basement before.

    We won't spoil the ending for you, but this one is downright creepy, and definitely a full-on psychological thriller - I can't recommend it enough if you're into that type of scare. Show creator Rod Serling used the short story "The Bus Conductor" from the anthology book "Famous Ghost Stories", and managed to make the story even scarier.


    Photo by CBS Television, via WikiCommons.


  • The Living Doll - Season 5, Episode 6 (Series Episode 126) - "My name is Talky Tina - and you better be nice to me!" - creepier words have rarely been uttered by a doll. Talky Tina is a doll given to a young girl, Christie, by her mother Annabelle after Annabelle marries a not-so-nice man, Erich, who becomes Christie's stepfather. Little does Erich know that being mean to Christie will incur the wrath of Talky Tina, who is more than just the girl's doll - she's her protector.

    When Erich picks up the doll, instead of chirping her regular "I'm Talky Tina, and I love you!", the doll says "I'm Talking Tina, and I don't like you" in a downright chilling tone. Later on, the doll begins having more elaborate conversations with Erich, and he becomes convinced that his new bride is playing tricks on him as payback for his poor treatment of her daughter, and he throws the doll out.

    Do you know what happens when you throw out a sentient doll that has already stated her distaste for you? One that seems to have a mind of her own? Nothing good - that's what. 


    Photo by CBS Television/Time, via WikiCommons.


  • Long Distance Call - Season 2, Episode 22 (Series Episode 58) - This episode is downright terrifying - especially if you aren't overly fond of your in-laws. Five year old Billy is best of friends with his grandmother (his father's mother). When she passes away, Billy does what any normal five year old boy does - he has "pretend" phone conversations with his deceased grandmother on his toy telephone.

    After the "pretend phone conversations", Billy starts acting...strange. At his grandmother's funeral, he runs out into traffic, narrowly missing getting runover, and when the driver asks him why he did it, he tells them someone "told him to", but denies this to his parents, of course. Billy's mother is terrified that grandma is coaxing Billy to join her, beyond the grave, and guess what - Mom's right.

    Billy is later heard talking and laughing on his play phone, and when his mother grabs it and take it away from him, he hears grandma on the other line.

    This one is terrifying, and the build up of tension is absolutely epic. While it might sound like "just another ghost story" to the uninitiated, I can personally vouch that this one will give you nightmares (it doesn't hurt that dear old grandma has a whole "Wicked Witch of the West" thing going on).


    Photo by CBS Television, via WikiCommons.

  • The After Hours - Season 1, Episode 34 (Series Episode 34) - Are you afraid of those creepy mall mannequins? Well, your suspicions are absolutely on point. The story begins with a young woman Marsha browsing for gifts for her mother at a department store, and decides on a gold thimble. She's directed to take the elevator, but the elevator operator keeps taking her to the 9th Floor, which is beyond the list of floors listed on the Elevators List of Levels.

    When she gets off the elevator, she is guided by a lone saleswoman to a counter, where the only item for sale is in fact the gold thimble she was looking for. She gets back in the elevator, but she notices her purchase is scratched and slightly dented, and when she talks to the store manager, she's assured that there is no 9th Floor, and it would have been impossible for her to have purchased anything there. Getting frustrated, she looks around, and she spots the saleswoman who sold her the thimble across the store. She runs up to her, and as she's addressing her, she realizes - the sale's woman isn't a woman at all - she's a mannequin.

    She understandably freaks out, and is directed to an office where she can sit, and calm her nerves, and she accidentally gets herself locked in the store after hours, with her new mannequin friend, and all of the mannequins. We won't spoil the ending for you, but needless to say, you will never look at store mannequins the same again after watching this one.


    Photo by CBS Television, via WikiCommons.


  • The Dummy - Season 3, Episode 33 (Series Episode 98) - Ever wonder how ventriloquism went from a fun form of entertainment to literal fuel for nightmares? Well, you can thank "The Twilight Zone" for that. Ventriloquism was a popular vaudville act back in the day, but man, were those dummies scary. So scary, that "The Twilight Zone" actually covered this topic twice (there's another episode about a creepy, sentient dummy, "Caesar and Me" that aired during Season 5).

    In "The Dummy", the episode kicks off with ventriloquist Jerry on stage with his dummy, Willie, in front of a packed crowd in a NYC club. Willie seemingly bites Jerry's hand before they go off stage, and when they go back to Jerry's dressing room, he looks at his hand only to see teeth marks. Disturbed, Jerry begins to drink, and when his agent Frank comes in to scold him, Jerry insists yet again that Willie is alive.

    Jerry tries to get a new dummy, but he hears Willie's voice wherever he goes, and he descends into madness, in fear of Willie. Will he be proven right? Is the terrifying dummy actually alive? You'll just need to watch to find out.


    Photo by CBS Television/Christopher Sorick, via YouTube.

  • Nightmare at 20,000 Feet - Season 5, Episode 3 (Series Episode 123) - If you're also a Trekkie in addition to loving horror, then you're in for a real treat - this episode's protagonist is a young William Shatner (it originally aired in 1963, just 3 years before "Star Trek: TOS" aired). "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" might just be the most well-known episode of "The Twilight Zone", and it's been referenced countless times in pop culture, and still holds up as absolutely terrifying today. We'll say this - if you're afraid of airplanes, then you might want to skip over this one.

    A young man, Bob Wilson (played by William Shatner), claims to have seen a gremlin on the airplane's wing mid-flight. He tries to alert the plane's staff numerous times, but anytime anyone else looks out the window, there's nothing there. It then is revealed that this is Bob's first flight since his nervous breakdown six month's earlier, which also occurred on an airplane, and when he realizes that everyone thinks he's losing it.

    Well, despite this, he's determined to get the gremlin off the wing of the plane, because he's seen it tinkering with the engines, and he's convinced that the gremlin is trying to crash the plane. If you haven't seen this one yet, you really need to. It's a real thriller, but it'll make you think twice about taking the seat next to the airplane's wing.


    Photo by CBS Television/The Sci Fi Channel, via WikiCommons.


  • Mirror Image - Season 1, Episode 21 (Series Episode 21) - Losing one's identity was an ongoing theme throughout the show's run, but "Mirror Image" might have been the creepiest incantation of this theme. A young woman, Millicent, is waiting at a bus station in upstate New York for the next bus to Cortland, and when she looks up at the clock, she realizes her bus is running late. When she goes to the window to ask when it will arrive, she's told by an annoyed bus attendant that this is her third time asking, which she vehemently denies. 

    She gets flustered herself, a few more weird things happen, and then, when she's in the bathroom, she sees an exact copy of herself sitting out on the bench by her luggage in the mirror's reflection. Things kind of go downhill from there, especially when she reveals to a fellow passenger-en-wait, Paul, that she's seen her double, and despite promising to help her, he gets her shipped off to the loony bin.

    Paul then encounters his own body double - serves him right for sending poor Millie off like that.


    Photo by CBS Television, via WikiCommons.


What's Your Favorite Episode of the Twilight Zone? Let Us Know in the Comments Below!

       

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Tags: Twilight Zone, Scariest Twilight Zone Episodes, Binge Watch, Horror Binge Watch, Horror TV