We’d be willing to bet that you’re probably familiar with some storylines from The Twilight Zone even if you’ve never seen a single episode. That’s because the groundbreaking show that ran 1959-1964 has left its mark on numerous TV shows and movies in the sci-fi/horror genre. Without it, we likely wouldn’t have today’s hit shows such as Black Mirror and Stranger Things.
Rod Serling was the mastermind behind this series, writing many of the episodes and playing host to whatever bizarre story would be delivered to the audience each week.
While the episodes don’t offer jump-out-of-your-seat scares, they often played on the psychological fears of human nature and left the viewer with a sense of dread. If it’s been years since you’ve seen the series, or you’ve never seen it at all, here are 10 creepy episodes that you can’t go wrong with.
1. “The Hitch-hiker” (season 1, episode 16)
Spend enough time behind the wheel on a long trip and your mind can begin to play tricks on you. That’s the case for the central character of this story, a woman traveling from New York to California who keeps seeing the same drifter along the way. The episode plays on the adage that you can never outrun your fears.
2. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” (season 5, episode 3)
Before William Shatner was commanding the Starship Enterprise, he was trapped on a cross-country flight with a monster that only he could see. This episode about a man who might be going crazy or might be the only one who can save his fellow passengers has been spoofed countless times on TV over the years. It’s simply one of the series’ best episodes.
3. “Perchance to Dream” (season 1, episode 9)
Insomnia flat out sucks, but it’s undoubtedly unbearable when the fear that you’ll die if you fall asleep is the root of your sleep troubles. That’s the fear of the character in this story who has a weak heart and tells his psychiatrist of an eerie recurring dream about a woman who literally wants to scare him to death.
4. “The New Exhibit” (season 4, episode 13)
Wax museums are kinda spooky even when they’re simply filled with figurines of Taylor Swift and Elton John. When a wax museum is filled with recreations of famous murders and it’s in some weird guy’s basement, well, the creep factor goes a lot higher. The hobbyist in this episode soon finds out that his strange hobby comes with a very sinister side effect.
5. “The Masks” (season 5, episode 25)
What goes around comes around, and this Twilight Zone episode drives home the message that everyone must answer for their actions. When a dying wealthy man calls his family over and tells them that if they want to receive his fortune they must each wear masks until midnight, they think nothing of it. What the ungrateful relatives fail to realize is that these are no ordinary masks and no fortune is worth the pain the masks bring.
6. “Living Doll” (season 5, episode 6)
There’s not much creepier than a talking doll, especially if it wishes you ill will. When a little girl receives a Talking Tina doll, her father comes to believe that the doll wants him out of the picture for good. If you enjoyed the Child’s Play movies, then you’ll probably like this episode as it served as an inspiration for the creation of Chucky. Just remember that you had better be nice to Tina — or else.
7. “Mirror Image” (season 1, episode 21)
A woman at a bus stop begins to suspect that something’s not right when everyone around her claims to have already answered her questions about the bus schedule. It’s not long before the woman comes to the conclusion that she has a doppelgänger who’s trying to take over her life. Is she losing her mind, or is there a sinister plot unfolding that everyone is in on except for her?
8. “Stopover In A Quiet Town” (season 5, episode 30)
There are plenty of Twilight Zone episodes that feature characters in a world that’s slightly askew, but this is one takes it to another level of creepy. A married couple finds themselves in a town and can’t remember how they got there. Even more disturbing is everything in the town from the grass to the animals seems to be completely artificial. Like many Twilight Zone episodes, all is revealed in the twist ending.
9. “Twenty Two” (season 2, episode 17)
A dancer is recuperating in a hospital from a mental breakdown but isn’t making much headway because of a recurring nightmare. The dream starts the same way each night and ends with a nurse at the hospital inviting the woman into the morgue with the words “Room for one more, honey.” We don’t want to spoil anything, but maybe skip this episode if you have a fear of flying.
10. “Night Call” (season 5, episode 19)
When an old woman starts receiving phone calls in the middle of the night that progress from static to moaning, she starts to become more terrified with each call. After the phone company tells her that the calls are coming from a line connected to the local cemetery, she begins to realize her worst fears are coming true. If there was ever a reason to be thankful for caller ID, this is it.