A Brief History of 'The Twilight Zone' Through the Years

LOS ANGELES - MAY 23: Virginia Gregg (as Emily Harper) in THE TWILIGHT ZONE episode, "The Masks." Image dated May 23, 1963. Original broadcast date, March 20, 1964. Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Walk through The Twilight Zone's past with this brief history of the show through the years ranging from early iterations to today's Jordan Peele produced reboot.


TV writer Rod Serling pens the one-hour "The Time Element" for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse on CBS. Plot: An NYC bartender (William Bendix) repeatedly dreams he's in Honolulu the night before Pearl Harbor. 


In the wake of the episode's success, CBS green-lights a Serling anthology called The Twilight Zone; he would write 92 of its 156 episodes (including Season 5's "The Masks"). Despite killer hooks and a loyal fanbase, the series is in frequent danger of cancellation. By 1964, the burned-out creator finally OKs its ending.   


Doomed from the start? Actor Vic Morrow and two children are killed during the making of the Steven Spielberg–produced Twilight Zone: The Movie (with John Lithgow starring in one of four segments). It grosses $29 million. 

(Warner Brothers/Getty Images)


The works of top-shelf writers Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison and George R.R. Martin contribute to this CBS iteration. But The Twilight Zone can't beat Webster in the ratings and is relegated to syndication within two years. 


"I decided that if we could make the shows the kind of quality they were before, then I would feel proud," host and narrator Forest Whitaker says before this second reboot's premiere on then UPN network. It's axed after one season.  


Jordan Peele, who cocreated the sketch series Key & Peele before auteuring the films Get Out and Us, signs on to exec-produce a CBS All Access reboot.

The Twilight Zone, Streaming now, CBS All Access