The Twilight Zone

Season 5 Episode 3

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

Aired Unknown Oct 11, 1963 on CBS



  • Trivia

  • Quotes

    • Opening Narration
      Narrator: Portrait of a frightened man: Mr. Robert Wilson, thirty-seven, husband, father, and salesman on sick leave. Mr. Wilson has just been discharged from a sanitarium where he spent the last six months recovering from a nervous breakdown. The onset of which took place on an evening not dissimilar to this one on an airliner very much like the one in which Mr. Wilson is about to be flown home. The difference being that, on that evening half a year ago, Mr. Wilson's flight was terminated by the onslaught of his mental breakdown. Tonight, he's traveling all the way to his appointed destination which, contrary to Mr. Wilson's plan, happens to be in the darkest corner of the Twilight Zone.

    • Bob: Just a little... abject cowardice, that's all. I'm going to be all right. Had a teensy weensy breakdown. But now, I'm cured. Understanding--it's wonderful. It isn't the airplane at all. Overtension and overanxiety due to underconfidence.

    • Bob: It must have been awful for you. Taking care of the kids. Bearing the full responsibility.
      Julia: Well, everything is still intact.
      Bob: Except me.

    • Bob: I know I had a mental breakdown. I know I had it in an airplane. I know it looks to you as if the same thing's happening again, but it isn't. I'm sure it isn't. Look, the reason I'm telling you this... isn't just to worry you. You notice I didn't tell you before.
      Julia: I want you to tell me.
      Bob: I didn't tell you before because I wasn't sure whether it was real or not. But I am sure now. It is real. There's a man out there. Or a... a gremlin, or... whatever. If I described him to you, you'd really think I was gone.

    • Bob: Honey, you remember what I told you before about seeing something outside?
      Julia: Yes.
      Bob: Julia, there's a man out there!

    • Bob: I don't mean a man, I mean..I don't know what I mean. I mean, maybe a ... what'd they call them during the war? You know, the pilots? Gremlins! Gremlins. You remember the stories in the... Julia, don't look at me like that.
      Julia: Bob...
      Bob: I am not imagining it! I'm not imagining it! He's out there! Don't look. He's not there now. He... he jumps away whenever anyone might see him. Except me. Honey, he's there. I realize what this sounds like. Do I look insane?

    • Bob: It isn't there. It isn't there. It isn't there.

    • Bob Wilson: There's someone on the wing!

    • Julia: It's all right now, darling.
      Bob: I know. But I'm the only one who does know... right now.

    • Closing Narration
      Narrator: The flight of Mr. Robert Wilson has ended now, a flight not only from point A to point B, but also from the fear of recurring mental breakdown. Mr. Wilson has that fear no longer, though, for the moment, he is, as he has said, alone in this assurance. Happily, his conviction will not remain isolated too much longer, for happily, tangible manifestation is very often left as evidence of trespass, even from so intangible a quarter as the Twilight Zone.

  • Notes

    • This episode was remade as a segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie.

    • Some of the music in this episode was "borrowed" from Jerry Goldsmith's score to Episode 49, "Back There."

    • This episode is based on the short story "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" by Richard Matheson. The story was first published in the Michael Congdon and Don Congdon edited anthology Alone by Night (1961).

  • Allusions