Twilight Zone – Five Characters In Search Of An Exit

★★★★★  December 22, 1961 Season 3 Episode 14

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

A fantastic episode of the Twilight Zone. The twist at the end is one of the best twists the Twilight Zone ever had. For most of the show, the five actors are all that can be seen, with the exception of the blank, curving wall of the cylinder. Rarely can the plot of an episode be summed up so completely in its title.

I feel like a broken record but again the acting is superb. The characters displaying their hopelessness in this episode is comes through well. The Major played by William Windom frequently throws emotional tantrums and is the latest to be added to this crew of a clown, Ballerina, tramp, and bagpiper looking for a way of this cylinder which they are trapped. The Major has a hard time with the defeatist attitude of the others

This show was written by Rod Serling and Marvin Petal

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Clown, hobo, ballet dancer, bagpiper, and an army major—a collection of question marks. Five improbable entities stuck together into a pit of darkness. No logic, no reason, no explanation; just a prolonged nightmare in which fear, loneliness, and the unexplainable walk hand in hand through the shadows. In a moment, we’ll start collecting clues as to the whys, the whats, and the wheres. We will not end the nightmare, we’ll only explain it—because this is the Twilight Zone.


It all starts when an Army major wakes up in a small cylindrical room with no way out. The walls are too high to climb and they’re too hard to puncture. Trapped inside with him is a clown, a bagpiper, a ballerina, and a hobo. They have all woken up inside there and have no idea where they are, what they’re doing there, how long they’ve been there or even who they are or how long they’ll be there. They apparently are unable to feel anything, and every now and then a loud clanging sound makes them all fall down. All of them have tried various ways of finding an exit, unsuccessfully. The Army major especially is determined to escape. He tries all sorts of ways to find an exit, but he cannot find one. Even when he hits the walls with his sword, it shatters. The major suggests that they are in Hell, so there IS no way out. Eventually the five characters decide that the only way out is to make a human tower.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

Just a barrel, a dark depository where are kept the counterfeit, make-believe pieces of plaster and cloth, wrought in a distorted image of human life. But this added hopeful note: perhaps they are unloved only for the moment. In the arms of children, there can be nothing but love. A clown, a tramp, a bagpipe player, a ballet dancer, and a Major. Tonight’s cast of players on the odd stage—known as—The Twilight Zone.


Rod Serling… Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Susan Harrison… The Ballerina
William Windom… The Major (as Bill Windom)
Murray Matheson… The Clown
Kelton Garwood Kelton Garwood … The Tramp
Clark Allen… The Bagpiper
Carol Hill… Woman
Mona Houghton… Little Girl

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

120 thoughts on “Twilight Zone – Five Characters In Search Of An Exit”

      1. Glad to hear your passion has healthy boundaries, Max. Driving and blogging definitely don’t go well together! 🙂

        This actually reminds me I need to head out myself to run some Saturday errands. I’ll be listening to the new album by The Wild Feathers. Based on what I’ve heard thus far, they sound great. Do you know these guys?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Max, I had to pull my car to the side of the road as well.

        I’ve been listening to their new album. I featured one of the tunes in my “Best of What’s New” this morning.

        Beautiful melodic rock – a bit of southern, a bit of country, some blues rock flavor here and there, all combined with catchy melodies – so good!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks for the heads up Christian. My friend Mike is a big fan – I think he saw rheum in concert last month even met the band. I think he even blogged about it. Live lines what I’ve heard from them


  1. Sounds good – I think I saw the episode parodied or mirrored in some TV sitcom a few years back, but I can’t remember which. Will have to check this one out and see if we even know how they got in there!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was actually a nervous wreck waiting to see what was on the other side of the cylinder they were trapped in. The human dynamic that plays out between the “prisoners” is a microcosm of larger social interactions. All of them were pretty much resigned to their fates until one showed up that helped motivate them out of it. I agree, it’s an excellent episode, Max. And guess what? Last night I watched the last 2 episodes of S3. That was a lot of episodes. Had to borrow it twice to see them all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you finished it off!
      Don’t laugh when you read this but I thought of Gilligan’s Island…a much more serious Gilligan’s Island…but with different people working together…it was excellent.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wild episode! When it started I thought TZ meets the avant-garde- the clown was out there. I enjoyed the philosophical musings of the other in terms of why they might be there. And such a great twist – looking back all the clues were there! I guess we’re far enough down in comments to say I wonder if John Lasseter had seen this when they come up with idea for Toy Story

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t laugh…but I just told Lisa this…in some perverted way I thought of Gilligan’s Island…a MUCH more serious Gilligan’s Island…you have a small microcosm of society.

      But yes I do agree…the clues are there…especially the loud BONG…I love the way Serling looked over the cylinder.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha. That’s funny!! Yes the other clue is that they are never hungry or thirsty.

        Yeah I liked Serling peering over as well. She. He first started showing up I guess in the second season I didn’t like it it but now I enjoy seeing how they add him in

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I tuned in tonight to Dodgers after watching Red Sox win their series. I didn’t have a good vibe from the outset. Fans just really seem subdued and so do the players. Sherzer threw his usual solid game, but no run support. I hope Dodgers turn it round in last 2 innings.

        Colombia had a good couple of games finishing yesterday drawing with Brazil. We have Ecuador on Thursday. That’s a big game.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. They are either all or nothing at times…and we are seeing it. I would like to see some bunting and moving people over but many teams including them don’t believe in that philosophy.

        I wish them the best… Soccer is so popular around the world….or football… everywhere else.


      3. I thought they all tried to bunt it and move people over. I saw Sherzer trying to do it last night to no avail. That big gust of wind in the last inning pushed the ball back in lol Bummer.

        Yeh world football is the principal sport here. Baseball is huge in the north of the Country and neighbouring Venezuela.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Pitchers do usually because they don’t hit as much but the art of sacrificing is pretty much gone.

        Oh yes… worldwide it is the major sport

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I see sacrificing all the time these days. I know in the movie Moneyball it’s portrayed as bad, but I’m always seeing sac-flys, bunting and stealing etc. I would have guessed it was more prominent these days. Or are you referring to only the Dodgers?

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Mostly to the Dodgers and Giants… but never have I seen Mookie Betts, Bellinger etc lay down bunts to get a run home. Sacrifice flies… they are more common because they are trying to drive the ball. The bottom line with the Dodgers… in most games… if there are no homeruns they don’t win

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Yes it will be tough…very tough…I have my doubts but hey…it is what it is.
        My worst scenario would be the Giants and Astros in the World Series…I couldn’t pull for either.


      8. The Dodgers and Giants…fans are brought up to hate the other team lol…we may respect each other…but that is it. They are big rivals…going back to when they were both in New York.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Yes the NY Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers had a huge rivalry and they moved with them…The Dodgers moved to LA and the owner talked the Giants owner into moving also. Both benefited.
        Yes and the team Houston beat the year of beating the trashcans were the Dodgers…and the part that hurt was Clayton Kershaw…he was pitching great and then all of a sudden it was like every batter knew what was coming…so my love of Houston is none lol….but do they have a great team? yes… and their manager now is an ex-Dodger when I was growing up…Dusty Baker


      10. That is intriguing about their joint move to the West. How did you begin following the Dodgers considering you live in Nashville? Escuse me if we have already discussed this. I have a memory like a sieve.

        I didn’t realise they had done that against Kershaw. I’m surprised they didn’t strip them of their WS.
        I watched them yesterday against the White Sox. They were savage. Felt sorry for Sox fans. Bergman and Altuve are my favourite players from their team, but they are choc-filled with talent. I didn’t know that about their coach.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. No problem… My dad was a fan of underdogs…and his brothers were all Yankee fans so Dad picked his favorite player who was Jackie Robinson and rooted for the Brooklyn Dodgers when he was a teenager….when I was 10 in 77 I picked it up and followed them ever since.

        That is what people were mad about…Houston really wasn’t punished as a team…their manager and GM was let go and that was it. They are good and didn’t need to cheat…that is what upset everyone…they came to Dodger stadium this year and were ripped by the fans pretty well…well everyone rips them now.


      12. Great back story about your Dad and Jackie Robinson. I thought about the same thing last night and if I had to choose my favourite team it would probably be based on the player I never grow tired of seeing, which is Ohtani. To me he is like the Messi of Béisbol…lol I hope this season isn’t a one off. His slider is probably the best I’ve seen.

        I also don’t know how the HOU players got off from that fiasco scott-free

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Ohtani is a special player…only a handful of players (or less) have pitched and hit so well. Babe Ruth was the greatest and I’ve wondered why more players are not encouraged to do both…I guess because if they get hurt…you lose two players at once.

        The Houston non punishment pissed off all the other teams…the other teams had sympathy with the Dodgers and that doesn’t happen often lol.


      14. I also am struck why there aren’t more players who do both. Yes, you lose two players at once (minus fielder), but you paid for one lol I also like Ohtani’s quirky mannerisms, humour and how he applauds good baseball even played against him.

        There is a great video below of him when he nearly hit Mark Canha. This video sums up Ohtani’s great nature. He is what inspired me to pay for the yearly MLB subscription.

        That made me chuckle your comment about people having sympathy with the Dodgers.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. That was funny…I loved his grin…he obviously wasn’t trying to hit the guy. In little leagues over here and high school…the pitcher is usually one of the best hitters.

        Him being in the American League where he can play DH helps also because he can get a rest and still play. He will be a free agent so that will be interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. So it seems from little leagues they are streamlined into specialising into one of the two.

        I had no idea Ohtani was becoming a free agent. Really!? Wow. My God I hope he doesn’t go back to Japan. Who is likely to pick him up?

        Liked by 1 person

      17. My fault! He is a free agent soon…but not now…at the end of the 2023 season…so my fault but the Angels better start trying to sign him.

        I doubt if he will go back…he will be making way too much money here.


      18. I thought it was this season but it is two more years…I’ve heard that the Angels may cannot afford him…we will see…I know another California team that can!


      19. Yes they do have a good chance against the Braves…not saying they can’t be beat….but the Dodgers swept them not long ago.
        That last play…it wasn’t a strike… he didn’t go around and I hate that happened…but it happened to the Dodgers in the NLCS a couple of years ago.


      20. No…it the braves win they will lead 3-1…if the Dodgers win it’s tied 2-2….best out of 7


      21. Yes I do….Matt in all my years of watching this team…since 1977…I have never seen injuries like this. Max was going to pitch tonight and he has a dead arm. Walker is pitching on short rest and Urias is wore out…so it will be interesting!

        Liked by 1 person

      22. It’s over use…where you pitch but you don’t have anything on a pitch. In other words…if you pitch in the mid nineties…you would be getting in the mid 80s…


      23. Matt I’ve been installing a floor for our living room…still doing it. Hopefully this weekend is it….I hope to finish the damn thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      24. We just didn’t want to pay someone 1500 to do it…but Matt…to tell you the truth I wish I would have! It’s getting the old carpet up that sucks.


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