The Twilight Zone is a timeless classic, full of episodes that are shockingly modern despite being made 50 years ago. The show still airs on TV during biannual SyFy marathons, including one on July 4, and this attracts whole new generations of fans year after year. So why exactly do many shows from this era not hold up but The Twilight Zone still resonates all these years later?
In short, it's because the series was never just about the crazy UFO effects or random plot twists. No, Rod Serling's work allowed audiences to explore universal human issues in a science fiction setting, with stories about nostalgia, loss, greed, regret, and much more. New fans can connect with these characters and their hopes and fears just as much as their parents did decades ago.
That's the case with these 10 episodes, which are all masterfully written half-hours of television that truly stand the test of time. Each of them transcends simple shock value, telling profound stories about humanity that are as relevant in 2015 as they were in 1959.
The memorable twists are one thing, but putting just the endings aside, let’s take a look at the 10 overall best episodes of The Twilight Zone.
10. The Masks
In The Masks, an old man is preparing for death and his greedy family members are all ready to collect his fortune. He has them wear masks that match their vile personalities, but when he finally dies, all of their faces have permanently twisted into these ugly shapes. Now, who they are on the outside truly matches who they are on the inside. They can't hide anymore.
It's one of the best twists in the series' history, but its greatness extends beyond just the initial surprise. It’s a brilliant episode that contrasts who you really are with who you appear to be on the surface, darkly concluding that people tend to be ugly and cruel underneath all the facades of society. In an age driven by the Internet and by endlessly tweaked profile pages, that almost seems more relevant today.
Robert Keith does an amazing job playing this sinister old man lying to everyone, yet the characters are so ruthless and greedy, you actually root for him to unleash his vengeance. It's an episode that suggests that the true self comes out whenever there's a profit to be made, and it’s often not pretty.