Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone changed the anthology series—and television—forever. Airing for five seasons on CBS between 1959 and 1964, each episode presented a standalone story where its protagonists were met with disturbing or supernatural circumstances, thus, entering “the Twilight Zone.” Its stories were renowned for their shocking endings and lingering moral lessons that its audience was left to chew on. Although the show was primarily science fiction, The Twilight Zone also dipped into paranormal and futuristic events that often skewed its stories toward horror and fantasy.
The series launched the careers of younger actors and also featured established stars. Serling was an executive producer who also narrated the series and wrote 92 of the show’s 156 installments. Serling’s monologues at the beginning and end of every episode became legends in their own right, as he explained how and why the characters had been met with such mysterious circumstances.
The Twilight Zone is often recognized as one of the most influential anthology series of all time, helping shape other shows like Tales from the Crypt and Netflix’s buzzworthy Black Mirror. Here’s how to watch The Twilight Zone streaming online.
How to Watch The Twilight Zone Online & Stream the Complete Series
In the United States, episodes of The Twilight Zone are available on both Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. Here’s how to watch via either service:
If you have Prime, or if you want to sign up for a free 30-day trial of Prime, you can watch episodes of The Twilight Zone on your computer right here, or you can watch on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Amazon Video app.
When signing up for Hulu, there are a couple of different options, both of which will get you access to episodes of The Twilight Zone.
Hulu With Live TV: If you want to go from watching Hulu’s on-demand library to watching MLB games or other live TV without changing the app, you can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV”. This option gives you access to Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, as well as a bundle of 50-plus live TV channels. It costs $39.99 per month for the plan that includes limited commercials with the on-demand content or $43.99 per month for the plan that includes no commercials with the on-demand content.
Once signed up for either option, you can watch The Twilight Zone episodes on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead
How Many Twilight Zone Seasons Are There?
Serling’s series ran for five spooky seasons, diving into robots, aliens, conspiracies, time travel and more strange occurrences.
The Twilight Zone Season 1
36 Episodes | October 1959 – July 1960
On October 2, 1959, The Twilight Zone debuted to rave reviews from sources like the New York Herald Tribune, Chicago Daily News and the Daily Variety. Though the show initially struggled to find its audience, it beat competition from NBC and ABC shortly after a brief hiatus. As ratings increased, sponsors stayed on and continued to invest in the show. The entire first season was written by Serling, Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson. These three writers were responsible for 127 of the 156 episodes of the show. Season One includes some of the show’s most talked about episodes including “Time Enough at Last,” “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” “Walking Distance” and “The After Hours.” It also won Serling a fourth Emmy Award for dramatic writing.
The Twilight Zone Season 2
29 Episodes | October 1960 – June 1961
Along with its second season, the show added new theme music as Serling himself stepped in front of the camera to provide his opening narration (before Serling only delivered a voice-over narration). Much like its debut season, Season 2 produced many acclaimed episodes like “The Eye of the Beholder,” “Nick of Time,” “The Invaders” and “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?.” The trio of Serling, Matheson and Beaumont began adding additional writers to flesh out the entire 29 episodes.
The Twilight Zone Season 3
37 Episodes | September 1961 – June 1962
During Season 3, Serling began to feel overworked, paving the way for the show’s new writers to step up in a major way. Despite his exhaustion, Serling wrote several teleplays that are regarded as classics such as “It’s a Good Life,” “To Serve Man,” “Little Girl Lost” and “Five Characters in Search of an Exit.” Writers Montgomery Pittman and Earl Hamner, Jr. added to Matheson and Beaumont’s work, while George Clayton Johnson added three complex stories into the mix. Sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury delivered “I Sing the Body Electric.” Season 3 is also notable for having aired the series’ 100th episode milestone.
The Twilight Zone Season 4
18 Episodes | January 1963 – May 1963
The trio’s of Serling, Matheson and Beaumont continued to cut back their duties on the show. While Serling still provided many of the teleplays, his role as executive producer was extremely cut back, as was his hosting spots due to his infrequent trips to Los Angeles. However, the show continued pumping out notable episodes, like “On Thursday We Leave For Home,” and the season was nominated for a cinematography Emmy in addition to a nomination for the Hugo Award.
The Twilight Zone Season 5
36 Episodes | September 1963 – June 1964
Network weariness and decreasing ratings led to the cancellation of The Twilight Zone, but the show continuing spawning supernatural mind-benders with episodes like “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” “A Kind of a Stopwatch, “The Masks” and “Living Doll.” Although episodes had been lengthened to one hour the previous season, Season 5’s shows were returned to the 30-minute format.
What Are the Best Twilight Zone Episodes?
Thanks to its anthology format, the show always had a fresh (and freaky) new story to tell every week. Here’s a list of the best Twilight Zone episodes.
Season 1, Episode 22: “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”
Maple Street is in an American town with a tree-lined street filled with white picket fences, barbecues and kids playing in the streets. That is until a flash of light and a rumbling in the sky cuts out all the power. Most neighbors think it was just a meteor, but 8 year-old Tommy knows the truth…aliens have landed and are about to take over.
Season 1, Episode 32: “The Big Tall Wish”
Marsha White gets off an elevator on the ninth floor of the department store, where she purchases the lone piece of merchandise: a gold thimble. When she notices the thimble is scratched, she complains only to be told that the store doesn’t even have a ninth store. She finds out that the person who sold it to her now appears to be a mannequin. And things only get weirder from there.
Season 2, Episode 7: “Nick of Time”
Don and Pat Carter are en route to a New York when their car breaks down in an Ohio town. They decide to grab lunch in a local diner where they find a fortune-telling machine on the table. Soon, Don becomes convinced that the machine is predicting his future and is unwilling to leave. Will they ever get out of the Twilight Zone?
Season 2, Episode 28: “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”
A snowstorm, a group of stranded travelers and a possible Martian who has infiltrated a roadside eatery. Is an invasion looming and who can be trusted?
Season 3, Episode 14: “Five Characters in Search of an Exit”
A group of five gets stuck together into a pit of darkness. There’s no real explanation, only a nightmare they must all deal with and the growing fears and anxieties that come along with it.
Season 3, Episode 35: “I Sing the Body Electric”
The widowed father of three brings home a new robotic grandmother. Young Tom and Karen love her in an instant, but the oldest daughter Anne is reluctant. When Anne tries to run away, she’s almost struck by a van in the middle of the street, but the kids’ new robot Granny throws herself in front of the van saving the girl. The kids soon realize just how indestructible their new family member really is.
Who Are the Actors in the Twilight Zone Cast?
Given its anthology format, all of the show’s cast are essentially “guest stars,” though some actors did appear in more than one episode. Some of the character actors who appeared in multiple installments were John Anderson, John Dehner, Betty Garde, Sandra Gould, Nancy Kulp, Celia Lovsky, Eve McVeagh, Nehemiah Persoff, Albert Salmi, Vito Scotti, Olan Soule, Harold J. Stone and Estelle Winwood. The actor who appeared the most was Robert McCord who appeared in 32 episodes altogether.
Who Are the Top Guest Stars on The Twilight Zone?
The series featured a mix of both early performances from a actors getting their start and also actors who appeared toward the end of their careers. Performances of the former included actors like Charles Bronson, Carol Burnett, Donna Douglas, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Constance Ford, Dennis Hopper, Ron Howard, Martin Landau, Cloris Leachman, Julie Newmar, Barbara Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, William Shatner, Dean Stockwell, and George Takei. However, established actors were also featured on The Twilight Zone including Dana Andrews, Joan Blondell, Art Carney, Gladys Cooper, William Demarest, Andy Devine, Buster Keaton, Ida Lupino, Kevin McCarthy, Burgess Meredith, Franchot Tone, Mickey Rooney, and Ed Wynn.
Who Are the Writers & Creators Behind The Twilight Zone?
Three main men were responsible for The Twilight Zone’s creation and early success.
Rod Serling: Twilight Zone Creator, Writer, Producer and Actor
Serling, who was also a playwright, brought The Twilight Zone to life in addition to hosting and narrating the show. He was known to fight hard to maintain creative control of the series, hiring writers he respected to help pen scripts. Aside from this show, Serling was known for his writing on Night Gallery and Planet of the Apes. He also continued narrating on projects like the TV show Ironside and the TV movie The Legendary Curse of the Hope Diamond.
Charles Beaumont: The Twilight Zone Writer
Personally hired by Serling himself, Beaumont was known for writing some of the most classic episodes of The Twilight Zone. He penned 22 of the original series’ run, including the episodes “The Howling Man,” “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You” and “Printer’s Devil.” Although best known for Zone, he also penned screenplays for films like The Intruder, The Masque of the Red Death and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.
Richard Matheson: The Twilight Zone Writer
Another writer hand selected by Serling, Matheson was responsible for 16 episodes. Matheson also wrote the original 1954 novel I Am Legend which was turned into a 2007 sci-fi drama starring Will Smith. He also has writing credits on Jaws 3-D and 1983’s Twilight Zone: The Movie.
Where The Twilight Zone Ranks in the Television Pantheon
The accolades for The Twilight Zone border on immeasurable. The Writers Guild of America deemed it the third best written TV series ever, while TV Guide called it the fifth greatest show of all time, citing its “abiding faith in humanity” and whimsy as its defining features. The show was nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards winning two of them; it also won a Best TV Producer/Direct Golden Globe for Serling.
Serling’s series is often viewed as seminal and its influence can still be felt today. In fact, author Stephen King once described the show as “damn near immortal” in his 1981 study of horror fiction called Danse Macabre. While one could certainly rattle off the individual shows and movies that followed in Serling’s footsteps, the themes and ideas it spawned are even more notable; these ideas are still in play in modern fiction, television or otherwise. From social and political allegories, to twist endings and technology paranoia, The Twilight Zone played on the fears and anxieties of a reserved 1960’s America, fears that can still be felt in today’s society and storytelling. Like King, many of today’s biggest creatives were inspired by the show, including J.J. Abrams, M. Night Shyamalan, Charlie Brooker, Tim Burton, the creators of Doctor Who, and more, all of whom took notes on Twilight Zone‘s twisty tales.
Zone also helped jump start the anthology series, or at the very least was one of the most prominent precursors of the format. The success of Black Mirror is perhaps one of the best examples of the show’s reach, but other shows like Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, Channel Zero and the children’s show Creeped Out all owe debt to Serling’s work. Horror cinema has also joined in throughout the years with offerings like Creepshow and its sequels, V/H/S, The ABCs of Death and XX.
The series itself has had multiple revivals and reiterations. The first revival occurred in 1985 and lasted three seasons; a second revival was attempted in 2002, but this time only lasted a single season. In November 2017, following the success of the film Get Out, it was announced that Jordan Peele is developing a reboot of the series for CBS’s All Access streaming service. Games, movies, comic books and more, there seems to be no stopping The Twilight Zone as it continues to expand its reach to younger and newer audiences even to this day.