It's hard to choose a favorite episode of "The Twilight Zone." Just when you think you've narrowed it down, you catch a classic rerun on late-night TV that makes you rethink your top choice. Heck, it's been more than 55 years since the show premiered on CBS (October 2, 1959 to be exact) and we still can't choose a favorite.
Maybe that's because every episode was so different from the last. Sure, they all started nearly the same — with creator Rod Serling welcoming us to his otherworldly dimension — but each proved to be wonderfully weird in its own unique way. One week, we'd be treated to a macabre murder mystery, and the next, a spooky science fiction story. And more often than not, each teleplay contained an underlying moral message or a twist ending that kept our minds racing long after the episode's end.
It's no wonder we can't choose a number one!
The folks over at IMDb, on the other hand, don't seem to share our problem. They've handily ranked every single episode from best to worst based on the ratings of their users. And you know what? It's kind of hard to argue with their results.
Keep reading for a spoiler-heavy rundown of IMDb's all-time favorite episodes as of National 'Twilight Zone' Day (May 11, 2015), starting with #10:
#10. 'Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?'
After an unidentified flying object crashes in a small town, the police show up to investigate at a local diner. Inside, they find a bus driver and his passengers waiting out a snowstorm until they can safely cross a nearby bridge. During the investigation, however, the patrons soon come to realize there's an outsider among them — possibly a Martian from the wreckage. Finger-pointing and paranoia ensue until the driver receives the go-ahead to cross the bridge, and everyone but the cook departs. A short while later, one of the passengers returns with chilling news: It turns out the bridge wasn't safe, and it collapsed into the river along with the bus and the cop car. He then outs himself as the Martian, and reveals his planet's plans to colonize Earth (as well as his third arm). The cook then reveals himself to be from Venus (along with his third eye), and kindly informs the Martian that his planet will never colonize Earth, because Venus has already beaten Mars to the punch.
#9. 'A Stop at Willoughby'
Brow-beaten Gart Williams doesn't get much respect at home or at work. It's no surprise, then, that he often dreams of leaving them both behind. One evening on the commuter rail home from his job, he dozes off and dreams that his train has stopped at a quaint 19th Century town called Willoughby, but he doesn't stay asleep long enough to explore further. Gart experiences the same dream a few days later, but still doesn't set foot in Willoughby. Finally, in his third dream, he gets off and happily marches into the idyllic little town. Unfortunately, back in real life, it's revealed that Gart actually jumped off his train (while screaming something about Willoughby), and died instantly. His body is then retrieved and loaded into a hearse provided by the Willoughby & Son Funeral Home.
#8. 'The Obsolete Man'
In a futuristic world, librarian Romney Wordsworth (played by Burgess Meredith in one of his several "Twilight Zone" appearances) is declared obsolete and sentenced to death by a totalitarian authority figure known as the Chancellor. Wordsworth is allowed to choose his own method of execution, which he does so privately, and also requests that his death be televised. On the day of his execution, the Chancellor visits Wordsworth at his home, where it's revealed that Wordsworth has chosen to die by bombing right then and there, and that he's trapped the Chancellor inside with him. When the Chancellor begs and pleads to be set free, Wordsworth releases him seconds before the bomb detonates. When the shaken Chancellor returns to his chambers, he finds that he's been replaced, and is sentenced to death for being cowardly, and therefore obsolete.
#7. 'Living Doll'
Erich Streator (played by Telly Savalas) is extremely angry over his stepdaughter's new Talky Tina doll, which he views as a reminder of his and his wife's inability to conceive. As a result, he's a nasty jerk toward his family, and he throws Talky Tina in the trash. Tina mysteriously returns, however, and vows to kill Erich in her sweet, doll-like voice. He takes Tina out to his workshop to try to destroy her, but soon discovers that he can't make a dent. Frustrated, Erich relents and gives Tina back to his stepdaughter, only to later trip over the doll and fall down the stairs to his death. His distraught wife finds him next to the doll, who issues one final warning: "My name is Talky Tina, and you'd better be nice to me."
#6. 'The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street'
After a mysterious object passes overhead, Maple Street experiences a power outage. The residents are forced outside to investigate, and they slowly become convinced that an alien or otherworldly being caused the disturbance. More specifically, they become convinced that one of the street's inhabitantsis an alien masquerading as a human, which induces panic, paranoia, and an all-out brawl that results in homicide. It's later revealed that the initial outage was indeed caused by aliens who have since decided not to bother conquering the human race: After observing the events of Maple Street, they figure the humans will destroy themselves on their own.
#5. 'It's a Good Life'
Anthony Fremont (played by "Lost in Space" actor Billy Mumy) and his family live in a small town seemingly cut off from the rest of the world — or perhaps it's the only town left in the world. This is because Anthony, who is only 6, is virtually omnipotent. Anything he doesn't like, he magically wishes away. Any activity he finds unpleasant, he restricts or forbids. And anyone who thinks bad thoughts about him gets killed, disfigured, or banished to a cornfield. Because of this, Anthony's entire family is afraid of him, but they dare not act unhappy lest they be punished. By the episode's end, Anthony's family is still too terrified to take action, and they await the next twist in their horrific fate.
#4. 'Time Enough at Last'
Bespectacled banker Henry Bemis (played by "Twilight Zone" regular Burgess Meredith) loves nothing more than a good book, to the point that he angers his wife and boss with his constant reading. Then one day, while stealing away to read in the bank's vault, the Earth is destroyed by nuclear war. Henry survives, but soon finds that everyone else is dead and gone. He nearly resorts to suicide before discovering the ruins of the local library, and in it, more books than he could ever want. But just as he picks up his first read, his glasses fall to the ground and shatter, leaving him alone once again. ("Twilight Zone" creator Rod Serling cited "Time Enough at Last" as one of his two favorite "Twilight Zone" episodes, the other being "The Invaders.")
#3. 'Eye of the Beholder'
Janet Tyler is completely unhappy with her looks, for which she undergoes numerous surgical procedures to fix. Though her face is covered by bandages for most of the episode, Janet is described as being so hideous that little children scream at the sight of her. After begging the doctors to remove these bandages and check on her face, Janet is horrified to find her latest procedure didn't take, and she still has the same appearance — which, to viewers, is that of an attractive woman. As it turns out, Janet had been living in a world where pig-snouts and mangled features were the norm, and since she'll never truly fit in, she gets shipped off to live with a colony of "ugly" people like herself.
#2. 'Nightmare at 20,000 Feet'
Even if you've never watched a single episode of the show, you've probably seen "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" parodied elsewhere on television. In this classic episode, airplane passenger Bob Wilson (played by a pre-"Star Trek" William Shatner) keeps catching glimpses of a gremlin outside his window, tinkering away at the wiring under the wing. The flight crew dismiss Bob's warnings as the ravings of a lunatic, so he takes matters into his own hands. Stealing a gun from a sleeping cop, Bob opens an emergency exit and begins firing upon the gremlin, successfully scaring the creature off and forcing a premature landing. But since nobody else saw this gremlin, Wilson is sent off to a sanitarium once the plane touches down. The evidence of the gremlin's tinkering, however, is clearly visible on the exterior of the wing, hinting that it's only a matter of time before everyone learns Bob wasn't so crazy after all.
#1. 'To Serve Man'
When an alien race lands on Earth with nothing but good intentions, humans across the world are skeptical. But after these aliens help put an end to war and hunger, they're welcomed with open arms. According to a government code-breaker named Patty, the alien reference book is even titled "To Serve Man," which only further endears them to the public. The benevolent aliens soon offer to ferry humans to their home planet for vacation and tourism purposes, and many happily go. It's only after thousands and thousands of humans depart that Patty successfully translates the rest of the alien book and comes to a chilling conclusion: "To Serve Man" is a cookbook, and the humans are unknowingly taking a trip to an alien planet to be butchered for dinner.