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Night Gallery: The Sins of the Fathers

In a medieval community, a widow needs the services of a "sin-eater" to cleanse her dead husband of her sins. But with all of the sin-eaters unavailable due to plague and famine, the son of an ailing sin-eater must take his father's place and assist the widow to provide for his family.

Episode Info
Episode number: 2x59
Production Number: 34321
Airdate: Wednesday February 23rd, 1972

Special Guest Stars
Michael DunnMichael Dunn
As The Servant

Guest Stars
Geraldine PageGeraldine Page
As Mrs. Evans
Richard ThomasRichard Thomas
As Ian Evans

Co-Guest Stars
Alan NapierAlan Napier
As The Man
Terence PushmanTerence Pushman
As Any Man
John Barclay (2)John Barclay (2)
As Another Man
Cyril DelevantiCyril Delevanti
As The Old Man
Barbara SteeleBarbara Steele
As The Widow (Widow Dighill)
Main Cast


At a medieval funeral in Wales, the mourners wait quietly until they hear a horse arrive outside. The widow, Mrs. Dighill, goes outside to greet a servant, who informs them that the man he was sent to find was too busy to come, and that there are no more similar ones to be had due to plague and famine. One of the mourners tells the servant to approach Dylan Evans and bring him there, and the widow says to offer Evans anything to come. As the servant rides off, the widow returns to sit with the other mourners...

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Episode Notes
Based on the short story "The Sins of the Fathers..." by Christianna Brand.

Episode Quotes
Host: Good evening. I'm your tour guide through this unusual salon of unusual statuary and paintings. These are the sort of things that may not please you but very likely may chill you. Because this is the Night Gallery. Now, this one here, unabashed and unashamed, I submit to you, was a dandy. It delves into an ancient funeral rite having to do with a personage called a sin-eater. One who attends a wake and partakes of the funeral food. And in the process, digests all the transgressions of the deceased, so that he departs the earth a much cleaner and sweeter little item. Proving that we've become a bit more sophisticated in our tribal rites, but we are much the poorer for our 20th Century chromium intellect. You might agree with me after you've seen Sins of the Fathers.

Mrs. Evans: My man is supposed to eat your master's sins and your master goes innocent to glory. What happens to my man? Eternal damnation for all the sins he has eaten, for all the others down through the years.

Ian Evans: No, no, to eat the sins of the sin-eater...
Mrs. Evans: Yes, you have to. Think of all the sins of the sin-eater. Sin upon sin, year after year, hundreds of sins from hundreds of men. Ian. Ian, someone has to take on the sins of the sin-eater. He's your father. Are you going to let your father die with all those sins unrepented, unshriven, unforgiven? Ian. Ian, smell the bacon.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
ProducerJack Laird
Costume DesignerBill Jobe
Set DecoratorChester L. Bayhi
Director of PhotographyGerald Perry Finnerman
Art DirectorJoseph Alves, Jr.
Main Title DesignWayne Fitzgerald
Music ScoreOliver Nelson
Film EditorJack Schoengarth
SoundDavid H. Moriarty
Assistant DirectorLester William Berke  |  Ralph Sariego
Production AssociateAnthony Redman  |  Herbert Wright
Unit ManagerBurt Astor
Editorial SupervisorRichard Belding
Theme MusicGil Melle
Gallery PaintingsThomas J. Wright  |  Logan Elston  |  Phil Bandierle
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