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The Twilight Zone: The Hitch-Hiker

While driving cross-country, a young woman notices the same hitch-hiker on the road ahead, beckoning her toward a fatal accident.

Episode Info

Episode number: 1x16
Production Number: 173-3612
Airdate: Friday January 22nd, 1960


Guest Stars
Adam WilliamsAdam Williams
As Sailor
George MitchellGeorge Mitchell
As Gas Station Attendant
Inger StevensInger Stevens
As Nan Adams
Lew GalloLew Gallo
As Gas Pump Boy
Russ BenderRuss Bender
As Counterman
Dwight TownsendDwight Townsend
As Highway Flagman
Eleanor AudleyEleanor Audley
As Mrs. Whitney
Leonard StrongLeonard Strong
As Hitch-Hiker
Main Cast
Rod SerlingRod Serling
As Narrator/Host


While driving on a long trip, Nan Adams suffers a blown out tire. Afterwards she repeatedly see the same man hitch-hiking. She gives a sailor a ride to keep her company. Being scared by the sight of the hitch-hiker, she tries running him over. The sailor states that there was no one on the road. She then calls home and learns her mother has had a nervous breakdown after the death of her daughter Nan in a car wreck. Nan returns to he car, where the hitch-hiker awaits her, his purpose and identity now known...

Read the full recap
Episode Notes
The story was originally written with the main character being a man, but Rod Serling thought that a woman would garner more sympathy from the public.

Inger Stevens provides voice-over narration during large portions of the show.

Edward Williams returns in "A Most Unusual Camera."

George Mitchell is also in "Execution," "Jess Belle" and "Ring A Ding Girl."

Lew Gallo also appears in "The Rip Van Winkle Caper" and "On Thursday We Leave For Home."

Episode Quotes
Opening Narration
Her name is Nan Adams. She's twenty-seven years old. Her occupation: buyer at a New York department store, at present on vacation, driving cross-country to Los Angeles, California, from Manhattan. Minor incident on Highway 11 in Pennsylvania, perhaps to be filed away under accidents you walk away from. But from this moment on, Nan Adams's companion on a trip to California will be terror; her route - fear; her destination - quite unknown.

Hitch-hiker: I believe you're going...my way?

Gas Station Attendant: How fast were you going, miss?
Nan Adams: Oh, 60, 65, something like that.
Gas Station Attendant: Blowout, skid marks, shoulders like pudding, and going 65 miles a hour. Lady, you're on the side of the angels. By rights, you shouldn't have called for a mechanic. Somebody should have called for a hearse. Just follow me into town, miss. I'll see if I can fix you up with a new tire.
Nan Adams: Thank you.

Gas Station Attendant: Five bucks for the call, $22.10 for the tire, the tax $2.60. Whole thing comes to $29.70.
Nan Adams: Cheaper than a funeral, isn't it?
Gas Station Attendant: You can say that again.

Nan Adams: (Off Screen voice-over) I saw him again 50 miles further on, and then again on the long straight stretch of Virginia. Just standing there, not menacing really. If anything drab, a little mousey. Just a shabby, silly looking scarecrow man. I shouldn't even think about him at all but it's the coincidence of the thing. The fact that wherever I go there he is. Wherever I stop I see him. No matter how far I travel or how fast I go, he's ahead of me. I'm on a turnpike now. I don't know why it is, but I'm frightened. A fear just about as vague as its object. Maybe it isn't really a fear. It's more just a sense of disquiet. A feeling that things are a little wrong. It's vague because that's what that hitch-hiker is. He's vague. I wonder why it is he's always there. I wonder why I can't shake him.

Nan Adams: (Off Screen voiceover) Now the fear is no longer vague. The terror isn't formless. It has a form. He was beckoning me. That thin grey man in the cheap shabby suit. He was beckoning me. He wanted me to start across. He wanted me to die! I know that now. I don't know what to do now. I don't know if I should turn around and go back to New York or go on ahead. Stabbing little thoughts gouge my brain. Ugly frightened thoughts. Projections of tomorrow and the next day. Driving through plains. Driving through the desert. Unspeakably nightmarishly alone. And I know I'll see him. I'll see him at detours, at railroad crossings. He'll be looking at me at stoplights. I don't know what to do now. I don't know what to do. I just don't know what to do.

Nan Adams: (Off Screen voiceover) Three days and three nights now driving. Past Tennessee, into Arkansas. Three days and three nights. Stop for food and then drive. Stop for food and then drive. Stop for food, and the routine goes on. Towns go by without names. Landscapes without form. Now it isn't even a trip, it's a flight. Route 80 isn't a highway anymore, it's an escape route. So I keep going, conscious of only one thing. I've to get where I'm going and I can't let that hitch-hiker close in on me! On the fourth day, halfway across New Mexico, I took a side road hoping to lose the hitch-hiker. At 11 o'clock at night, the engine stopped and I sit there in the front seat, refrigerated by fear. Out of gas!

Nan Adams: Operator, I'd like to make a call to my home in New York City. My name is Nan Adams. The telephone number is Trafalgar 41098. Hello, mother?
Mrs. Whitney: This is Mrs. Adams' residence. Whom do you wish to speak to please?
Nan Adams: Who is this?
Mrs. Whitney: This is Mrs. Whitney.
Nan Adams: Mrs. Whitney? I don't know any Mrs. Whitney. Is this Trafalgar 41098?
Mrs. Whitney: Yes it is.
Nan Adams: Where's my mother? Where's Mrs. Adams?
Mrs. Whitney: She's still in the hospital. A nervous breakdown.
Nan Adams: A nervous breakdown? But there's nothing the matter with my mother. What do you mean, a nervous breakdown?
Mrs. Whitney: Well, it's all taken place since the death of her daughter.
Nan Adams: The death of her daughter? What do you mean, the death of her daughter? Who's this? What number is this?
Mrs. Whitney: It's all been very sudden. Nan was killed just six days ago in an automobile accident in Pennsylvania. A tire blew out and her car turned over.

Nan Adams: Very odd. The fear has left me now. I'm numb. I have no feeling. It's as if someone had pulled out some kind of a plug in me and everything—emotion, feeling, fear—has drained out. And now I'm a cold shell. I'm conscious of things around me now. The vast night of Arizona. The stars that look down from the darkness. Ahead of me stretch a thousand miles of empty mesa, mountains, prairies, desert. Somewhere among them he's waiting for me. Somewhere I'll find out who he is. I'll find out. I'll find out what he wants. But just now, for the first time, looking out at the night, I think I know.

Closing Narration
Nan Adams, age twenty-seven. She was driving to California, to Los Angeles. She didn't make it. There was a detour through the Twilight Zone.

Cultural References
This episode is based on "The Hitch-Hiker" by Lucille Fletcher.

"The Hitch-Hiker" originally was performed for radio on The Mercury Theatre on the Air on November 17, 1941.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBuck Houghton
EditorBill Mosher
CastingMillie Gusse
Director of PhotographyGeorge T. Clemens
Art DirectorWilliam Ferrari  |  George W. Davis
Production ManagerRalph Nelson
Sound EditorFranklin Milton  |  Jean Valentino
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
Sound Effects EditorVan Allen James
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