I’ve already covered the best episodes of The Twilight Zone, but now, I’m going to cover the very worst. Now, to be completely honest with you, this list was actually much harder to come up with than the 10 best episodes because quite frankly, there are a LOT of bad episodes of The Twilight Zone. Don’t get me wrong. The great episodes are truly great. Utter classics. But the stinkers are really, really stinky.
To make it onto this list, there are a few qualifications that I think all bad Twilight Zone episodes have. One, they have to be really corny, even by back-then standards. Two, they have to have pretty crummy endings, since all the good episodes of The Twilight Zone, have at least decent endings. And three, they have to have ridiculous premises. Still with me? Okay, then hitch a ride into The Twilight Zone with me. Oh, and spoilers up ahead. Major ones.
Mr. Bevis (Season 1, Episode 33)
Mr. Bevis? More like Mr. Bevis the Butt-Head. This episode, starring Orson Bean, is about a dweeb who loses his job and then gets a visit from his guardian angel who changes his life around. The only problem is that the change is pretty much worthless since Mr. Bevis doesn’t live it up to show us what an alternate lifestyle would actually look like. He’s too into his old ways, and that’s just fine with him. But it’s bad for the viewer since his old ways are insufferable. Building model ships at his desk for the kids in the neighborhood rather than doing his job? Who does that? Plus, this episode is trying desperately to be funny, with slide whistle noises and everything, but none of the humor lands.
There’s a certain skill in making the viewer like goody-two shoe characters, and a good example of this is Hector B. Poole, played by Dick York of Bewitched fame in the episode, “A Penny for Your Thoughts.” But this one just does not work at all. And would you believe that the following episode to this turkey is the classic “The After Hours”?
The Mighty Casey (Season 1, Episode 35)
Fitting all three of my requirements for bad episodes (corny, bad ending, stupid premise) is this episode about a robot baseball player. Starring Problem Child’s Jack Warden, the story concerns a losing baseball team that gets help from a robot pitcher. But within the first few seconds, the pitcher gets hit in the head with a baseball without any emotion. The only thing missing was a laugh track (oh, I’ll get to a laugh track later).
The story feels too short, but it drags its feet to that ending, which is slap-you-in-the-face cheesy. Plus, the whole vibe of this episode feels way off, and it doesn’t make any sense. Later in the episode, the robot gets hit with a ball and has to go to the hospital. But why? The robot got hit in the head earlier in the episode and was fine. Just bad. Really, really bad. And guess what. This is the episode that precedes “The After Hours”! What a crap sandwich.
Jess-Belle (Season 4, Episode 7)
Get it? Like Jezebel. This episode, starring Forbidden Planet’s Anne Francis, is about a woman named Jess-Belle who wants somebody else’s man and goes to a witch to cast a spell on him so that he falls in love with her. The only problem? Jess-Belle now turns into a leopard every night at midnight… And yes, I'm serious.
Plus, this is one of the hour-long episodes from Season 4, so it just goes on and on and on. By the time you get to the ending where her lover stabs her, you’re just wondering how you got there because you fell asleep and missed most of the episode.
The Invaders (Season 2, Episode 15)
A poor woman, played by Citizen Kane’s, Agnes Moorehead, lives in a cabin and is visited by space aliens that are literally only inches tall. But even though she’s a giant compared to them, they torment her, blasting her with their tiny—pew pew—space guns, leaving marks all over her body. But there’s a twist! Their space ship, which looks like the typical flying saucer from the 50s, actually reads U.S. Air Force Space Probe No. 1 (!!!) You mean… we were the aliens the whole time? Get out of town!
I know this one has its fans, but I’m sorry. Even back then, I think I would have laughed out loud like I do today at how bad those “invaders” look. Plus, this one pretty much has no dialogue besides the woman’s shrieking. God help us all.
The Whole Truth (Season 2, Episode 14)
A used car salesman, played by Jack Carlson, wheels and deals all day, lying to his customers to sell them junkers. But when he’s visited by an old man who wants to sell him his old car, the salesman buys it only to learn that it’s haunted. And now that the salesman has it, he can’t tell any lies until he sells the car to someone else. Uh oh. In a lot of ways, this episode is pretty much just Liar, Liar but with a car salesman rather than a lawyer. And no Jim Carrey.
The joke wears thin in the first few seconds, and it has probably the dumbest ending in The Twilight Zone history when the salesman eventually sells the car to Nikita Khrushchev. Oy.
Mr. Dingle, the Strong (Season 2, Episode 19)
Rocky’s Burgess Meredith plays a dweeb named Luther Dingle who everybody picks on until these two-headed Martians give him super strength. He then becomes Mr. Dingle, the Strong, lifting statues, wrecking boulders, the works. But the Martians are displeased that Mr. Dingle is using his power for show, so they take his power away before he can lift a whole building. Two weird Venetians then show up and give him super smarts. The end.
Honestly, this is one of those so bad, it’s good episodes, because the aliens just look so weird, and the plot is just so stupid. I really have to be in the right mood for it when it comes on, though. If I’m not, then worst episode ever. If I am, then BEST EPISODE EVER!
Black Leather Jackets (Season 5, Episode 18)
Three aliens in black leather jackets (that aren’t Biker Mice from Mars) invade a small town and poison the water. But one of the aliens falls in love with an earthling and actually wants to save the humans. But will it be too late?
Short answer, yes. And the ending is probably the only decent thing about the whole episode. The rest of it has the cheese factor up to 11. The aliens say things like “Daddy-O” to fit in, they move their eyes to lift the shades, and it’s just an overall silly episode that always sticks out for being so oddball and silly. Lame to the nth degree.
Cavender is Coming (Season 3, Episode 36)
Often considered the very worst episode of The Twilight Zone, “Cavender Is Coming” is just like “Mr. Bevis”, but with a female lead (this time Carol Burnett) rather than a male. It’s the story of a guardian angel sent down to help a schlub, only to find that said schlub likes her life better just the way it is.
But this one is way worse than “Mr. Bevis” since it tries even harder to be funny. In fact, upon its original airing, it even had a laugh track. Can you imagine? The Twilight Zone with a laugh track! It’s because this episode was meant to spin-off and become its own show. Too bad this episode couldn’t even be enjoyable for a full 25 minutes. Jeez.
I Dream of Genie (Season 4, Episode 12)
A loser, played by Howard Morris, buys a genie’s lamp, but he’s only allowed one wish instead of three, so he spends the whole episode daydreaming about what he wants to use his wish on, only to find that no matter what he wants, he’ll still be a loser. So he decides that he wants to be a genie as his wish. This is Season 4, mind you, which means it’s a full hour long of him coming to this decision.
This one starts cringey (there’s a gross scene near the beginning where the one female at a workplace is given a nighty for a birthday present while men ogle her), and is cringey all the way through. And again, this is one of the hour-long episodes. Oh, and one of the key jokes in this episode is that the protagonist’s dog changes from daydream to daydream. Hilarious!
The Bewitchin’ Pool (Season 5, Episode 36)
What a shame that the last episode of the entire series is one of the worst. Two kids with terrible parents, find that there’s another world beneath their swimming pool where a woman name Aunt T (Auntie? Oh, God) takes in abused and neglected children.
But the episode is told in a strange fashion as its flashback is kind of confusing given the whole series of events. It’s really not the worst episode in the world, but as a swan song to one of the greatest TV shows ever, it’s the pits.
And those are the very worst episodes of The Twilight Zone. Again, there are a lot of stinkers, but these were the ones that I found the most unbearable. But what do you think are the worst episode of the famous show? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.