The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
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Five Characters in Search of an Exit 

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.

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(teleplay by), (based on a short story by) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

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

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

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Release Date:

22 December 1961 (USA)  »

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(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title "Five Characters in Search of an Exit" combines those of the play by Italian writer Luigi Pirandello: "Six Characters in Search of an Author," and the play by French writer Jean-Paul Sartre: No Exit. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[opening narration]
Narrator: Clown, hobo, ballet dancer, bagpiper, and an Army major - a collection of question marks. Five improbable entities stuck together into a pit of darkness. No logic, no reason, no explanation; just a prolonged nightmare in which fear, loneliness, and the unexplainable walk hand in hand through the shadows. In a moment, we'll start collecting clues as to the whys, the whats, and the wheres. We will not end the nightmare, we'll only explain it - because this is the Twilight Zone.
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Connections

Referenced in Star Trek: The Next Generation: Allegiance (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Can't Beat That Title
28 October 2014 | by (North America) – See all my reviews

William Windom(The Major), Murray Matheson(The Clown), Susan Harrison(The Ballerina), Kelton Garwood(The Tramp), and Clark Allen(The Bagpipe Player) play the five title characters, who find themselves prisoners in a vast cylindrical object with no way out but straight up, and no idea how they got there, or indeed who they are. The Major becomes the driving force in their effort to escape by forming a human ladder, and manages to get over the top with an unexpected outcome... Well remembered episode is really an existentialist play that still holds up marvelously today, with what must have been a stunning surprise ending that still packs a punch...if it hasn't been spoiled beforehand of course!


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