Top 10 Twilight Zone Episodes For Star Trek Fans

The Twilight Zone and Star Trek both occupy a special place in science fiction history. But, perhaps more interesting is the surprising amount of crossover between the two shows (and I’m not just talking about the more well-known instances a la Captain Kirk screaming on an airplane). Hit the jump to read my top 10 Twilight Zone episodes that every Trekkie should see.

CNN is currently running a series covering the last few decades of American history. Some of you may have been watching it. I was particularly eager for the episode profiling television in the 60s, to see what words they might have about Star Trek.

They mention it, but only really Plato’s Stepchildren, which featured the first televised interracial kiss (on American TV at least).

They do talk about the larger subject of using science fiction to discuss cultural issues of the day, but primarily focusing on The Twilight Zone. The two shows experienced a lot of crossover with cast and crew who worked on both shows, and of course fans who enjoyed both. There’s even an Enterprise where Trip hangs a lantern on the issue when he says T’Pol’s story sounds like an old Twilight Zone episode!

So I thought it would behoove me to write an article of my Top 10 Twilight Zone episodes for Star Trek fans. Note that this doesn’t include any of the famous ones that you probably already know (Eye of the Beholder, It’s a Good Life) or the ones famous for starring Trek actors (Nick of Time, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, Quality of Mercy). I’ve also included some from the two subsequent TZ series to spice things up for those who may only know the 1960s show.

10 – The Encounter

So controversial at the time, this episode only aired once on broadcast television. It features a (very) young George Takei and lingering Japanese/American hostilities after World War 2.

Bonus GIF of George Takei jumping out a window with a katana

9 – The After Hours (1986)

So this episode is a remake of one from the original series, where a woman encounters mystery at a department store, but more remarkable to Trek fans because the lead is played by one Terry Farrell. (No spots, alas.)

8 – Mute

The TOS episode The Empath is extremely similar to this little-known TZ classic.

7 – But Can She Type?

Have you always been a fan of 1980s Jonathan Frakes but you wanted him as less of an executive officer and more of a pick-up artist? Well you’ll find that … in the Twilight Zone.

6 – The Passerby

This Civil War-era episode stars Joanne Linville, who plays the Romulan Commander from The Enterprise Incident (my favorite TOS episode). Luckily, this time she at least gets a name. Passerby also features a character from another Star Trek episode, whom I’ll let surprise you …

5 – One Night at Mercy

This is the only episode on my list from the UPN series (which Trip was helping promote to fans when he name-dropped the show on Enterprise). It features Star Trek fan and Voyager alum Jason Alexander (better known as George from Seinfeld) who plays Death and yadda yadda yadda there’s a twist at the end.

4 – Of Late I Think of Cliffordville

This episode does some clever pre-Trek things with time travel, while also featuring two future Trek guest stars: Julie Newmar (Eleen from Friday’s Child) and John Anderson (Kevin Uxbridge from The Survivors).

3 – The Hunters

OK this one I confess that I haven’t seen – it’s from the 1980s series and it stars Louise Fletcher, the Oscar-winning actress who DS9 fans know better as Kai Winn, so I had to put it on my list. And it’s in my queue to watch as soon as possible!

2 – Valley of the Shadow

This one explores some pre-Trek ideas that seem like the building blocks of the Prime Directive, and features a supporting role from James Doohan, speaking in his rarely heard native American (well, technically Canadian) accent.

1 – Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?

OK I’m cheating on my rule about no episodes that appear on top 10 best Twilight Zones. This one appears on many lists, and is my personal favorite. Notable to Star Trek fans, though, is the appearance of John Hoyt, who played Dr. Boyce in the first TOS pilot. Is he the real Martian? You’ll have to watch to find out.

Also honorable mention to “Walking Distance”, although – again – that’s probably on a lot of top 10 lists for the whole franchise. It’s JJ Abrams favorite episode, which he references in the movie Super 8. Enjoy watching! And I’ll see you … in the Twilight Zone.

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“You’re entering a world beyond imagination and…..”

You left out a couple of episodes with Stanley Adams (Cyranno Jones).

Yes, Yes….. It was a TOP 10 list….. sue me. ;)

I love “will the real Martian please stand up”! It’s a classic!

In November 2014, the website “The Agony Booth” posted a well-researched article debunking the assumption about “Star Trek” having TV’s first interracial kiss.

A lot of younger people don’t remember the original “Twilight Zone” anymore. I was being wheeled into surgery in 2009. I joked to the nurse “I hope someone doesn’t say to me ‘Room for one more, honey.'” The nurse didn’t get it.

And, “Trek”‘s own Arlene Martel was the actress who said that classic line, in the episode “Twenty Two”. I think she was billed under her birth name “Arline Sax” there.

You guys need to one with Outerlimits Trek crossovers. Tons on that show.

There’s a good one called “Expanding Human” with Steve Inhat, Keith Andes, Skip Homier and….James Doohan. I couldn’t believe the first time I saw it. It’s a feast to watch. (Inhat died too young)

There’s one called “Cold Hands, Warm Heart” with William Shatner, Malachi Throne, and Lawrence Montaigne. In it Shatner is an astronaut who visits the planet Venus on a mission called Project: Vulcan. No one ever talks about that. Strange, Fun coincidence.

There’s the classic, written by Harlan Ellison, “Demon with a Glasshand” that stars Arlene Martel.

There’s tons more in that series. Outta check ’em out. Too much fun.

Andy Patterson,

The most obscure preTrek appearance in THE OUTER LIMITS is the moving starfield in SECOND CHANCE (aka JOY RIDE) which was later adopted for the moving through space at warp effect in Trek.

Now that’s a cool fact. And I thought I knew obscure Trek stuff. Thanks.

Great article,, Jared.

Interesting choices – I would like to hear fans top 10 episodes of the original and 90’s Outer Limits

Usually when I steer people to TZ episodes that have Trek connections, I just go for the big ones (the two with Shatner, etc.) I’ve noticed that if I’m mentioning another one that has a person who played a character in one episode of Trek at some point, then I get stares that start to glaze over!

Well, but this article IS on a site for serious Trek fans, so the writer can probably assume that most of his readers remember such things as the Romulan Commander from “The Enterprise Incident.” I thought she was quite impressive and very memorable, for example. ;-)


Excellent article.

Unfortunately in going out of your way to avoid the Shatner cliche you glossed over NIGHTMARE AT 20,000 FEET’s very strong connection to STAR TREK beyond merely that. Both that episode and STAR TREK’s THE ENEMY WITHIN were written by Richard Matheson, who also penned 15 other TZ episodes.

In another TZ connection, Matheson’s script was adapted for THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE.

He also wrote TZ’s LITTLE GIRL LOST, based on an actual event in his life, which featured Trek alumni, Sarah Marshall (Janet Wallace in THE DEADLY YEARS) and Robert Sampson (Sar 6 in A TASTE OF ARMAGEDON)

“Death Ship” — Star Trek chooses the wrong genre (horror) and starts and ends in one episode, with Jack Klugman as Kirk and Ross Martin as McCoy. The dangers of boldly going Spockless.

I know I’m Grumpy, but even I enjoy one good, fall out of the chair belly-laugh like I did while watching “Third Rock from The Sun” when Shatner and Lithgow, who both did the same TZ episode (Lithgow’s was the movie version) and they both mentioned something out on the wing to each other. . . LOL stuff there!

NIGHTMARE was directed by the same guy who did THE EMPATH and they both have that stark no-set-decoration look. Since EMPATH (along with BALANCE OF TERROR and DOOMSDAY MACHINE) is my fave Trek, it only made sense that I loved NIGHTMARE as well.

I really liked some of the 1985 TWILIGHT ZONEs, though the budget really hurts the look of the thing with all those video fx.

NIGHTMARE AT 20,000 has never worked for me, because I thought I figured out the twist in advance … but then they didn’t use it (I thought the pilot was going to tell Shatner, ‘why did you shoot him? HOW DO YOU THINK WE KEEP THESE THINGS IN THE AIR! Then again the FAA would have frowned on that, wouldn’t they?)

Concerning the ’85 Twilight Zone – – my favorite episode is “Word Play” with Robert Klein. The whole world has started speaking another warped form of the English language. He’s the only one left speaking correctly. I think of that episode a lot these days. It’s on line. Check it out.