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  |  TV-PG  |   |  Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 1,069 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 2 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 by), (based on a short story by), 1 more credit »
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Title: Five Characters in Search of an Exit (22 Dec 1961)

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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 | soldier | clown | See All (36) »





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 Major: Who are we?
The Ballerina: None of us knows Major. We don't know who we are, we don't know where we are. Each of us woke up one moment and here we were in the darkness.
The Major: How can that happen?
The Ballerina: That's the question we asked ourselves Major, a question with no answer. We're nameless things with no memory, no knowledge of what went before. No understanding of what is now, no knowledge of what will be.
See more »


Referenced in Toy Story 2 (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

One of the best episodes of the series, character and identity searching and very cleverly done.
12 November 2007 | by (Petersburg, Virginia) – See all my reviews

"Five Characters In Search of An Exit" clearly has to be one of the more clever and better "Twilight Zone" episodes ever made because of it's abstract ideas and thoughtful plan where the characters have to search to discover identity and it ends as a surprise. You have a military major, a female dancer, bag pipe player, a clown, and hobo who all awake together in the bottom of a wall and none know how they got there and they don't know who they are. So the episode starts out with very interesting drama and suspense from the very beginning making it so soul searching for the viewers interest to want to know the characters true identity and backgrounds. Plus the episode even adds more intrigue for the fact it places different types of characters with different views and lifestyles all with one goal in common to escape and find identity, and peace that's very compelling for the viewer. Only in the end I don't want to spoil for those who haven't seen a surprise fall happens! Proving that many times you might want to stay where you are away in your little sheltered world and be away from the masses of other people's world as you will see the characters are loved in a different way by people in a much different form. Really great and cleverly done a real shock twist surprise that makes the viewer see the unexpected and cruel fate that happens sometimes when you search and seek.

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