Twilight Zone: Season 3, Episode 14

Five Characters in Search of an Exit (22 Dec. 1961)
"The Twilight Zone" Five Characters in Search of an Exit (original title)

TV Episode  -   -  Fantasy | Horror | Mystery
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 843 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 1 critic

An army major awakens in a small room with no idea of who he is or how he got there. He finds four other people in the same room, and they all begin to question how they each arrived there, and more importantly, how to escape.



(teleplay), (based on a short story by), 1 more credit »
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Title: Five Characters in Search of an Exit (22 Dec 1961)

Five Characters in Search of an Exit (22 Dec 1961) on IMDb 8.7/10

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Episode complete credited cast:
Susan Harrison ...
The Ballerina
The Major (as Bill Windom)
Murray Matheson ...
The Clown
Kelton Garwood ...
The Tramp
Clark Allen ...
The Bagpiper
Carol Hill ...
Mona Houghton ...
Little Girl


It all starts when an army major wakes up in a small cylindrical room with no way out. The walls are too high to climb and they're too hard to puncture. Trapped inside with him is a clown, a bagpiper, a ballerina, and a hobo. They have all woken up inside there and have no idea where they are, what they're doing there, how long they've been there or even who they are or how long they'll be there. They apparently are unable to feel anything, and every now and then a loud clanging sound makes them all fall down. All of them have tried various ways of finding an exit, unsuccessfully. The army major especially is determined to escape. He tries all sorts of ways to find an exit, but he cannot find one. Even when he hits the walls with his sword, it shatters. The major suggests that they are in Hell, so there IS no way out. Eventually the five characters decide that the only way out is to make a human tower. But then when the ballerina nearly reaches the top, the clanging sound goes again ... Written by almightyone

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

major | doll | ballerina | clown | snow | See more »





Release Date:

22 December 1961 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Producer Buck Houghton's daughter Mona appears here as the little girl. See more »


After they fall from the attempted escape, the ballerina lies with her leg straightened, but in the following shot, is kneeling and facing another way. See more »


The Clown: [of the Major] Very active chap. Quite a function. Compulsive worker.
The Major: [still tapping the wall] You a big-time psychologist, huh?
The Clown: I'm a clown. Which is neither here, there, nor anyplace. I could be a certified public accountant, a financier, a left-handed pitcher who throws only curves. What difference does it make?
[singing to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne" while the Major pounds the wall]
The Clown: We're here, because we're here, because we're here...
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the best episodes
2 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

While researching Susan Harrison (The Ballerina) in reference to a Bonanza Episode, I was reminded of this gem.

This episode is the inspiration for Dylan's "All Along the Watch Tower" (Hendrix's cover is probably as well know and is one of his best) which is one of HIS best.

Thus this episode is responsible for several 'bests' - not bad for approximately 22 minutes of television.

But this is "The Twilight Zone". Further comment of the series is unnecessary.

'5 Characters' is typical Serling. Intense, dramatic, barreling toward an end that is as inevitable in hindsight as it is surprising the first time you see it.

This episode is spoiled in one sentence and is too good to spoil for any who have not seen it.

But you will feel ambushed. And you will never listen to Hendrix with the same ears again.

35 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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