The Twilight Zone Forever

An Enduring Legacy

Though crafted by many writers, directors, and actors of different sensibilities, The Twilight Zone was ultimately united under one—Serling’s—vision. Its totality and cohesiveness make it Serling's magnum opus, an oeuvre that communicated to entire generations. “Rod had some sort of common touch,” Houghton said, “whereby a sympathy for the common man and the problems that he dealt with and faced and won and lost was communicated to an awful lot of people.” Houghton’s personal notes, used as a guide for script purchases, reveal the contents of Serling’s “common touch”:

The Twilight Zone is a world that allows for things to happen that do not happen in real life: fantasies operate, wishes are fulfilled, life’s loose ends are tied up, frustrations are resolved, discontents are played out, dreams come true, magic asked for is delivered. Unbridled imagination, working to the benefit—or destruction—of commonplace people...the writer is free to pose almost any ‘What if...?’ and proceed with it to some conclusion unfettered by the need to mirror real life; but he can never treat far-outness as an end in itself—the conclusion reached must ultimately appeal to our sense of truth, justice, or irony. It must have a crackling resonance in common human experience (emphasis mine).†

These men wrote about life
And about the dignity of the human spirit
And about love”

—John Tomerlin, “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You,” 1964.

“The strange and wondrous mysticism
That is a simple act of living”

—Rod Serling, “Mr. Bevis,” 1960. 

The Twilight Zone is a legacy that continues to teach, entertain, and inspire; it is a measure of that legacy that Rod Serling was able to surmount the obstacles inherent in a commercial medium like television to touch more people's imaginations with more ideas of lasting impact than any American (television?) writer of our time.

“As long as people talk about you,
you’re not really dead
As long as they speak your name,
you continue
A legend doesn’t die just because the man does”

—George Clayton Johnson, “A Game of Pool,” 1961.


"The Twilight Zone Forever" pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 

“It’s a Good Life,” 1961; “From Agnes—with Love,” 1963; “Nick of Time,” 1960.


New York Times crossword puzzle, circa 1990s; Postage stamp issued 2009; Chronicle Books, 1990.