10 heartwarming episodes of The Twilight Zone

Rod Serling didn't always take us to dark places

The Twilight Zone is famously remembered for it's eerie settings, creative monsters, and horrifying twists. Who can forget Talky Tina, the living doll who announced "I'm going to kill you"? Or maybe the aliens with their book, To Serve Man. Even William Shatner's iconic episode had him dealing with both a monster on the wing of a plane and the horror of a potential plane crash.

But Rod Serling didn't always take us to dark places. At least, not without a light of hope. Here are ten episodes of The Twilight Zone that deal with hope, optimism, and love, and will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling.

By the nature of The Twilight Zone's twist endings, this list may have spoilers. Read at your own risk!

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1. One for the Angels


In just the second episode, The Twilight Zone already gives us something to "aww" over. "One For The Angels" follows Lew Bookman, a sidewalk peddler of toys and trinkets who's beloved by the neighborhood children. When Death comes for him, he convinces him to wait until he's made the greatest sales pitch of his life — "one for the angels". But when his loophole means that one of the neighborhood kids will die in his place, Bookman makes pitch after pitch to Death, each better than the next, in order to keep the child alive. Even Death seems to root for Bookman in this gentle tale.

2. A Passage for Trumpet


Starring Jack Klugman, this story follows a dejected trumpet player. After stepping in front of a car, he wakes up to find that nobody can see or hear him. At a nightclub, someone finally speaks to him — another trumpet player, who tells him that he's in a sort of limbo and gets to decide if he's going to live or die. As Rod Serling says in the final narration, "[life] can be rich and rewarding and full of beauty... if a person would only pause to look and to listen."

3. The Night of the Meek


This Christmas episode starts off incredibly bleak. A worn, ragged Henry Corwin is fired from his job as a department store Santa. He claims he drinks because he lives in a dirty rooming house with hungry kids and he can't stand all the suffering. When he stumbles across a bag filled with gifts, he realizes that the bag magically produces any item asked for. He spends Christmas Eve finally happy, giving gifts to the children and men at a mission house. However, the only gift Corwin wants is to do this forever, to be able to give freely and lift spirits. He gets his wish with a healthy dose of Christmas magic.

4. A Penny For Your Thoughts


This story stars Dick York of Bewitched as a shy, insecure bank clerk. When he tosses a coin and it lands on its edge, he finds that he has gained the ability to hear other people's thoughts. He doesn't use this ability for crime, or to spy. Rather, he gains confidence, learns to stand up for himself, and impresses the girl who was always admiring him from afar. It's a simple story, but a charming one, and by the time he loses his supernatural ability, he finds he no longer needs the extra help.

5. The Hunt


This story was penned by Earl Hamner Jr., who you might know as the creator of The Waltons. Appropriate for the man behind Walton's Mountain, this story is about a mountain man and his beloved hound dog who come back from a hunt to realize that they've died along the way. The man finds a gate that promises to lead to heaven, but the gatekeeper says dogs aren't allowed. In a move that will resonate with any animal lover, the man declines to enter heaven if his dog can't come. It proves to be a smart choice, and the twist will leave you hugging your own dog.

6. The Trade-Ins


"The Trade-Ins" asks a simple question: is it better to enjoy a young, healthy body but leave your partner suffering old age alone, or would you go hand-in-hand into the future together, with all the wrinkles and grey hair that come with it? In this story, there's a procedure that allows people to swap aged bodies for younger models, but an elderly couple only has enough money for one of them. Of course, considering the subject of this list, love wins out and they decide that it's better to stay together even if it means staying old. 

7. I Sing the Body Electric


Ray Bradbury wrote the script for this sci-fi story. A widowed man with three children invests in a robotic grandmother to help care for the children. The oldest, still bitter and feeling abandoned by her mother's death, refuses to accept the new addition to the family. This story explores the idea that genuine love can come from even electronic sources as the family comes together.

8. Cavender is Coming


This idea was used a few times on The Twilight Zone— the concept that sometimes the success you dream of won't be as fulfilling as you think it will. However, only this one had Carol Burnett! She plays Agnes, a clumsy woman who gets fired from her job. When a guardian angel, Cavender, gives her a mansion, a large bank account, and high-society friends, Agnes finds that she misses her old apartment and friends. When Cavender undoes the magic, Agnes is finally happy in her life, clumsiness and all.

9. The Changing of the Guard


Get out the tissues, folks, because this one gets emotional. Another Christmas Eve tale, "Changing of the Guard" is about a retired teacher who feels like he has accomplished nothing and prepares to end his life. However, at the last minute, he is visited by ghosts of his students — who tell him about how he changed their lives and made them better men for it. The teacher realizes that he has made a difference in the world after all. Cue the waterworks.

10. Passage on the Lady Anne


This hourlong, fourth-season episode is often overlooked. It follows a couple whose marriage has become strained and in a last-ditch effort to save it, they book an unusual boat voyage. Something is off about this ship: all the passengers are elderly, they seem to know the couple shouldn't be here, and there is cryptic talk about their destination. This boat may not be of this world, but it causes husband and wife to realize that they love each other and want to remain together. Aww.

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Isitme 1 month ago
I believe “The Trouble with Templeton” belongs on this list.

He’s living in the past, but the past does him a favor by rejecting him.

The confidence he gains when realizes this makes me smile.
Teewatt 1 month ago
One of my favorites out of allot of them is " Changing of the Guard "
McGillahooala 2 months ago
I used to have a box I threw my change in when I came home. One time, I had a coin stand on its edge like in A Penny for your Thoughts. Nothing magical happened, but I thought about that Twilight Zone episode for three days until it finally fell over.
phlop1963 2 months ago
A Passage of Trumpet and The Changing of the Guard are among my favorite episodes!
sagafrat69 2 months ago
"Deaths-Head Revisited" is also kind of a "feel good" episode". Seeing these victims get some sort of retribution is very satisfying. As the one Holocaust ghost says" this is not revenge Captain, this is JUSTICE". Always warms my heart when I see it. "The Night Of The Meek" is classic holiday t.v. It's a shame the way it was shot just to save a little money. Also, that cute little elf at the end of the show doesn't get a screen credit for some strange reason. She got robbed.

coffinman 2 months ago
My wife and I LOVE "The Hunt." We named our German Shepherd "RIP" after the coon-hound.
Peter_Falk_Fan 2 months ago
One of my favorites is "The Changing of the Guard", especially because it has Donald Pleasence in it.

If I could pick one more, I would pick "The Fugitive" episode.
justjeff 2 months ago
Nice overview, but ovne again the MeTV NON-proofreaders struck agaiN!

"Anges is finally happy in her life, clumsiness and all." - This is Agnes, NOT Andy Taylor a/k/a "Ange"...
justjeff KJExpress 2 months ago
Yep... I can get caught by typos as well, LOL! That *should* have been 'once', along with the finger slip of the capital 'N' in 'again'... As I've mentioned before, I wish there were better keyboards for people with larger hands... Because of the tight keys, I make more typos than I'd care to admit to.

My only redemption is that I **do** proofread my own work, and usually catch 99.5% of my errors...although that previous post might make you think otherwise...

Nevertheless, I catch more of those errors than the MeTV writers do!
KJExpress justjeff 2 months ago
I use my phone for these MeTV responses and I'm always making typos. Or.....autocorrect decides it knows what I want to say and comes out with the craziest substitutions if I'm not careful! 🤦‍♀️
BrentwoodJon 2 months ago
Come to think of it, I can't remeber a TZ that I don;t like?
There all good a most Great.
BrentwoodJon 2 months ago
I've seen them all and the list is the Best.
I would add a couple more but I love TZ
Runeshaper 2 months ago
All of these sound sweet! I remember watching One for the Angels. The dog in the The Hunt looks cute and I recently read a similar story like that on social media.
RedjacArbez 11 months ago
The Changing of the Guard

As a teacher I get it.....We seldom see the final product....what became of the kids.

I was lucky to teach grade 1 in 2004....
Those kids are now stepping out into the world......Some of them found me on face book to thank me for making them want to come to school because my class was so much fun.

talk about a river of tears.
Purple0456 23 months ago
It doesn’t get better than Twlight zone to make us think. So many of the episodes resonate with what we see today especially the “monsters on maple street “ Rod Serling knew what he was talking about. He left us with a real gift…flash of insight which seems to be sorely lacking today💜
Filmnoirfan 29 months ago
Of the 10 listed, Night Of The Meek, The Hunt, Cavendar Is Coming and The Changing Of The Guard are all very good, but the others are a little slow - especially the hour episode - and I Sing The Body Electric is the all-time worst episode.
BrentwoodJon Filmnoirfan 2 months ago
wow I liked it.
PulsarStargrave 30 months ago
The BEWITCHIN POOL is one of my favorite heart warmers! I try not to miss it as well as the bittersweet BIG TALL WISH!
DocSavage98 33 months ago
The Hunt is my all time favorite TZ episode. I grew up coon hunting with my dad and we raised and trained hounds. Just puts me at piece to watch a favorite actor, Arthur Hunnicutt ride this episode making each scene perfect.

I think "A Game of Pool" could be on this list as a cautionary tale ...that sometimes getting exactly what you think will make you happy forever....won't!
Filmnoirfan DocSavage98 28 months ago
As the saying goes "Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it"
scp 34 months ago
I know it doesn't qualify as a "warm and fuzzy" episode, but "Mr. Garrity and the Graves" is one my favorites.
And, when making sure I had the title right, I stumbled over the fact that Serling had based it on a true story from Alta, Utah, where in 1873 a mysterious stranger showed up and offered to go to the cemetery and raise the dead. While people were initially receptive, the complications of such an act (what about widows and widowers who had remarried, what about property that had been inherited, etc.) convinced the townspeople to reconsider. The residents ended up collecting $2,500 and gave it to the stranger to leave town, which he did.
ms231 34 months ago
I have seen all of them. They are all great. My favorite is, “The Changing of the Guard.”
MichaelVegas 34 months ago
I have not seen "The Changing of the Guard" but if all the visitor to tell him how much the teacher made their lives better are ghosts (Dead) how can that make you feel good? I mean I help 20 people and 5 come back to me telling me how I changed their life and made it better and they were dead, I do not think I would have changed my mind.
DocSavage98 MichaelVegas 33 months ago
The reason most are ghosts are they have gone to serve and protect their country in one of several wars he has taught through....apparently he taught for a loooong time.
Filmnoirfan MichaelVegas 29 months ago
He was on the verge of suicide suspecting that his many years of teaching had no impact on his students, but the ghosts of students past actually gave his career and his life validation
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