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The Twilight Zone: Third From the Sun

Two workers at a rocket ship factory plan for their families to flee the planet before an imminent atomic war begins.

Episode Info

Episode number: 1x14
Production Number: 173-3615
Airdate: Friday January 08th, 1960


Guest Stars
Edward AndrewsEdward Andrews
As Carling
Fritz WeaverFritz Weaver
As William Sturka
Jeanne EvansJeanne Evans
As Ann
Joe MarossJoe Maross
As Jerry Riden
S. John LaunerS. John Launer
As Loudspeaker Voice
Will J. WhiteWill J. White
As Guard
Main Cast
Rod SerlingRod Serling
As Narrator/Host


Scientist William Sturka and test pilot Jerry Riden, certain that an all-out nuclear war is imminent, plot to steal an experimental spaceship and escape with their families to another planet. They overpower a government man Carling, who has been watching them closely, and escape. In space they wonder what their new home planet will be like. From radio broadcasts they know it is inhabited by people like themselves, and it is called Earth...

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Episode Notes
The spaceship prop was the same one used in the classic 1956 film Forbidden Planet. Footage from the film was also used to depict the ship in space.

Denise Alexander would later appear for many years on General Hospital as Dr. Lesley Webber.

Fritz Weaver and Joe Maross would return in the following episodes: "The Obsolete Man" and "The Little People."

Episode Quotes
Opening Narration
Quitting time at the plant. Time for supper now. Time for families. Time for a cool drink on a porch. Time for the quiet rustle of leaf-laden trees that screen out the moon. And underneath it all, behind the eyes of the men, hanging invisible over the summer night, is a horror without words. For this is the stillness before storm. This is the eve of the end.

Carling: Your department's going full blast, isn't it? It's coming, boy, it's really coming, and a big one, too. While we're talking here, I'll bet the military is getting all set. Got it all mapped out, I'll bet. Talk is 48 hours. You wait and see if I'm not right. Forty-eight hours and we'll have them aloft. Then whoosh, up, over and whammo. There goes the enemy. Obliterated, finished.
William Sturka: But what are they doing in the meantime?
Carling: What do you mean what are they doing? Probably retaliating the best way they can. It's a big waste of time, let me tell you. We get the first licks so they can't do much.
William Sturka: They can go whoosh, up, over and whammo.
Carling: Absolutely, but no so many, not so properly aimed, not so skillfully carried out.
William Sturka: So instead of losing 50 million people we lose only 35, huh??
Carling: You a defeatist, Sturka? That's dangerous thinking. You better mind what you say!
William Sturka: And what I think, too.
Carling: Yeah, and what you think.

Jody: Everyone I've been talking to has been noticing it.
Eve: Noticing what, Jo?
Jody: That somethings wrong. That somethings in the air. That somethings going to happen. And everybody's afraid. Everyone, Dad! Why?!
William Sturka: People are afraid because they make themselves afraid. They're afraid because they subvert every great thing ever discovered, every fine idea ever thought, every marvelous invention ever conceived. They subvert it, Jody. They make it crooked and devious. Then too late, far too late, they ask themselves the question why. And then it's too late. Everything is too late.

Eve: I have so much fear inside me…I can't give it words.
William Sturka: It's too late for subterfuge now. It's too late for anything. It's coming. It's coming, probably within 48 hours.
Eve: Will it be bad?
William Sturka: It'll be a holocaust. It will be hell. It will be the end of everything we know. People, places, ideas, everything. It will all be wiped out.
Eve: In 48 hours?
William Sturka: Maybe sooner.

Carling: Evening Sturka. Little cards, eh?
William Sturka: Little cards, Carling. We were just about to cut into a cake. Would you care to join us?
Carling: No, thank you, just a little lemonade for me. I was just telling your wife that she makes wonderful lemonade. Hot night, too. This is a night for a front porch, or sleep, but nothing else.
Jerry Riden: How right you are. We'll be leaving in a couple of minutes. I've been up north testing an aircraft. Haven't had much sleep the last couple of weeks.
Carling: I know the aircraft. They say it's capable of leaving our atmosphere. Talk is it could go to another planet if the right man flew her.
Jerry Riden: Well, not for a while, yet. Needs a lot more testing.
Carling: (crestfallen) Oh. May I have a cigarette?
Jerry Riden: The way I figure it, Mr. Sturka, you owe Ann and me a little money here. Marvelous scientist, very bad card player.
Carling: Oh, I wouldn't have believed that. I would have guessed that Sturka here was a good gambler. I'd have guessed he'd gamble on most anything.

Carling: I like to take a walk on warm evenings … helps me sleep better.
William Sturka: I'll see you to the door, Mr. Carling.
Carling: Thank you.
Carling: I'll probably see you at the office tomorrow.
William Sturka: Yes, of course.
Carling: Pretty night. Clear as a bell. Nothing but stars. You ever think, Sturka, that there may be people on those stars too? Maybe people just like us.
William Sturka: That thought has crossed my mind.
Carling: Ever think maybe you'd be happier on one of those than you are here?
William Sturka: That thought has crossed my mind, too.
Carling: Yeah. Yeah, I have no doubt. (he walks off)

Jerry Riden: Everything alright?
William Sturka: It's 12 o'clock and all is well. The stars look far away.
Jerry Riden: They are far away, but the one we want, that's not so far, Bill. You see it there? It's the shiny one. The bright one over on the right.
William Sturka: It's hard to believe there are people there, people like us.
Jerry Riden: People like us. It's the third planet from the sun, Bill. It's called Earth. That's where we're going, to a place called Earth.

Closing Narration
Behind a tiny ship heading into space is a doomed planet on the verge of suicide. Ahead lies a place called Earth, the third planet from the sun. And for William Sturka and the men and women with him, it's the eve of the beginning in the Twilight Zone.

Cultural References
This episode is based on the short story "Third From the Sun" by Richard Matheson in Galaxy October, 1950.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBuck Houghton
EditorBill Mosher
CastingMillie Gusse
Set DesignerRudy Butler
Set DecoratorHenry Grace
Director of PhotographyHarry J. Wild
Art DirectorWilliam Ferrari  |  George W. Davis
Production ManagerRalph Nelson
Sound EditorFranklin Milton
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
Sound Effects EditorVan Allen James
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