The Twilight Zone

Season 1 Episode 16

The Hitch-Hiker

Aired Unknown Jan 22, 1960 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
215 votes

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Episode Summary

Alone on a cross-country trip, a woman continually sees the same hitch-hiker everywhere she looks.

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Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • great

    scares me every time when i watch it at night it makes me stay up till 3am just thinking about being alone in the dark streets where noone will belive you
  • Creepy!

    This is one very creepy episode. Just reading the recaps gave me chills!
  • creepfest

    Wonderfully creepy, with the atmosphere of dread and suspense well-sustained throughout. This was one of the first TZs I ever saw (if memory serves), and it's still one of my favorites. The phone call back to her parents was particularly well-done. We also get to see in a cameo the guy who played Anthony Perkins' psychiatrist in Fear Strikes Out. The only knock is the rather hammy VO's, which I thought could've been dispensed with.moreless
  • Nan Adams recovers from a traffic accident and she begins seeing the same hitch hiker everywhere she goes.

    In my humble opinion, the scariest and most tense of all 'The Twilight Zone' episodes. It is a normadic episode which adds to the urgency of the situation and the lack of ideas Nan Adams must have. The Hitch-Hiker himself seems perfectly harmless: which is what makes him more terrifying. It is also quite refreshing to have Adams have narrative soliloquys; highlighting the fact that she is alone. Fortunately for her she meets a sailor, however he seems to be no help when Adams loses her mind. When Adams phobes home, it is one of the more chilling scenes as she realises her fate and how it is now secured. And the final line from the Hitch-Hiker cements it: 'I believe you're going my way.'moreless
  • In five seasons, 156 episodes and over 4,500 minutes of black and white drama, The Hitch-Hiker is unquestionably my all-time favorite to watch when I'm in a Twilight Zone mood. If you watch no other Twilight Zone episode in your life, watch this one.moreless

    Of all the Twilight Zone episodes I've ever watched in my life, none scared the ____ out of me more than this one. I know that terms like "chilling" and "spine-tingling" tend to get used a lot with these Twilight Zone episodes, but there really aren't many words that epitomize them quite as well. The story begins in Pennsylvania with Nan Adams, a woman who has been in a car accident on a cross-country road trip from New York to Los Angeles. She gets fixed up and laughs the experience off as being "cheaper than a funeral." As she's about to leave, she notices a scrawny man with his thumb up, trying to hitch a ride. Nan just takes off, pretending not to notice him. However, this hitch-hiker keeps appearing and reappearing on the streets she happens to be driving. With each time she sees him, she gets more and more terrified and perplexed until he's all she can think about. A few scary moments are thrown in for good measure during the episode. In one scene, she's stopped on the road by a foreman telling her there's a delay and she'd need to stay put. She sees the hitch-hiker approaching her car and she freezes in fear. He pokes his head in her passenger side window with his thumb outstretched and asks, "Heading... west?" She flips out and high-tails it out of there. Eventually, she reaches Arizona and decides that if she doesn't call her mother to hear a warm, familiar voice, she's gonna lose her mind. She calls her own number on a pay phone and an unknown woman answers. This woman reveals that her mother has been hospitalized on account of a nervous breakdown. Then comes the zinger. (SPOILER COMING)

    The mother's breakdown was caused by... the death of her daughter. The eerie music starts playing as the woman on the phone goes on to explain that Nan Adams was killed in a car accident in Pennsylvania six days ago, when the car she was driving blew a tire and overturned. At this point, Nan realizes the truth and an inner monologue takes place as she slowly walks back to her car. Her voice is heard talking about how she's all of a sudden become this numb, cold shell of a person. She goes on to say, "Ahead of me stretch a thousand miles of empty mesa, mountains, prairies, desert. Somewhere among them he's waiting for me. Somewhere I'll find out who he is. I'll find out. I'll find out what he wants. But just now, for the first time, looking out at the night, I think I know." As the creepy music hits a high point, you see Nan back in her car. The camera swivels from her face to the back of her head as she is seen getting ready to adjust her rear view mirror. All you see in the mirror once it's adjusted is the Hitch-Hiker's face and knowing smile as he delivers the mother of all freaky lines: "I believe you're going... my way." The camera shows Nan's defeated, yet calm face. You only see her in the car, but her eyes are fixed on the rear view mirror as the episode ends. The music for this episode is perfect, especially at the end. It's the kind of episode that'll make your bones quiver. I'm not even a woman and I'm freaked out at the very thought of that happening to me. If you want to entice someone into becoming a Twilight Zone fan, show them this episode. Seriously. There's no way they won't come away from it without saying something to the effect of, "Wow, that is seriously messed up!"moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Hitch-hiker: I believe you're way?

    • (Closing Narration)
      Narrator: Nan Adams, age twenty-seven. She was driving to California, to Los Angeles. She didn't make it. There was a detour through the Twilight Zone.

    • (Opening Narration)
      Narrator: Her name is Nan Adams. She's twenty-seven years old. Her occupation: buyer at a New York department store, at present on vacation, driving cross-country to Los Angeles, California, from Manhattan. Minor incident on Highway 11 in Pennsylvania, perhaps to be filed away under accidents you walk away from. But from this moment on, Nan Adams's companion on a trip to California will be terror; her route - fear; her destination - quite unknown.

  • NOTES (5)

    • Inger Stevens' character, "Nan", was named after Rod Serling's daughter. In the original radio play, the character's name was "Ronald Adams."

    • The episode's origins as a radio play are clearly evident - Inger Stevens provides voiceover narration during large portions of the show.

    • The story was originally written with the main character being a man but Rod Serling thought that a woman would garner more sympathy from the public.

    • Included on volume 7 of Image-Entertainment's DVD collection.

    • This episode is based on "The Hitch-Hiker" by Lucille Fletcher. "The Hitch-Hiker" originally was performed for radio on The Mercury Theatre on the Air on November 17, 1941.