This episode is a brilliant critique of arbitrary beauty standards and the desire to conform. As Janet Tyler lies in a hospital bed, her head wrapped in heavy bandages, she longs to find out if her facial deformities will be fixed. When her face is finally unwrapped, the big reveal gives us a lot more than we bargained for.
"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" (1963)
What would you do if you saw a gremlin-ape-yeti on the wing of a plane you were traveling in? William Shatner is posed with this conundrum in what is now the most famous Twilight Zone episode in history. "Nightmare" aired in 1963, just a couple of years into commercial air travel's first real boom and came with an ending so disturbing it probably put off a bunch of new travelers for life.
"The Lonely" (1959)
He's a convicted murderer sentenced to live the rest of his life alone on a distant asteroid. She's a robot with amazing eyebrows sent to provide him with some desperately needed companionship. This exploration of artificial intelligence and human morality aired 14 years before Michael Crichton's Westworld movie but explores many of the same themes. Bonus reason to watch? Everyone's weird pronunciation of the word "robot."
"To Serve Man" (1962)
The moral of this story? When nine-foot tall, Earth-invading aliens tell you they want to take you back to their planet to show you their advanced technology, maybe politely decline, even if they do pass a polygraph test. The legitimately shocking twist at the end of the episode revolves around a book titled To Serve Man and a jaw-dropping double-meaning nobody saw coming.
"Walking Distance" (1959)
Basically The Twilight Zone's version of Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now, this episode uses accidental time-travel as a medium to explore the pitfalls of nostalgia and living in the past, as well as the dangers of clinging to one's youth. FYI: devastating leg injuries may result from visiting your younger self, so knock it off.
"Time Enough At Last" (1959)
This episode has everything. Nuclear war! Spousal abuse! Incredibly high-waisted pants! Henry Bemis is a bookworm who just wants to be left alone. When he finally gets his wish, the apocalypse doesn't seem so bad at all... until the tiniest of accidents puts an end to it all. The finale is truly one of the cruelest in Twilight Zone history.
"Ring-a-Ding Girl" (1963)
The genius of this one is that almost the entire episode is spent making you despise the central character—an arrogant actress named Bunny Blake—only to reveal at the very end that Bunny had everyone's best interests at heart all along. Turns out, she's a real life-saver.
"The Invaders" (1961)
The most unintentionally hilarious Twilight Zone episode ever centers around a mute woman living in a remote cabin, who begins to be terrorized by tiny, knife-wielding robotic creatures from another planet. The farcical tale all becomes worthwhile in its final moments though, as we realize the woman is not what she first seemed.
"Living Doll" (1963)
Talky Tina left such a mark on the pop culture psyche that tales about haunted dolls have been a staple ever since. The real twist of the episode is that step-dad Erich is so cruel to his wife's daughter and so sadistic in his attempts to destroy the doll, it feels like a genuine triumph when—spoiler alert!—Talky Tina finally does him in.