The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
20 user 5 critic

Third from the Sun 

Two families of Government employees plan to steal a spaceship and travel to another planet just prior to a nuclear war. They must also deal with a stooge who wants to stop them.



(teleplay by), (based on a short story by)

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Episode complete credited cast:
William Sturka
Joe Maross ...
Jerry Riden
Denise Alexander ...
Jody Sturka
Lori March ...
Eve Sturka
Jeanne Evans ...
Ann Riden


William Sturka works as a hydrogen specialist in a highly secure plant. Conditions are tense and there are constant rumors of war. The latest is that it's going to happen in the next 48 hours. Unbeknownst to his wife Eve and daughter Jody, he and his friend Jerry Riden have been planning an escape of sorts for themselves and their families. Jerry is a test pilot and they plan to steal the government's latest spacecraft heading off to a planet they believe may sustain life. Their biggest challenge is Carling, a security officer who seems to be onto their plan. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Release Date:

8 January 1960 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Sturkas use an Ericofon for their telephone, used for first time on TV to emphasize the presumably futuristic setting of the story.The Swedish designed phone was largely unavailable for use in the U.S. because AT&T still maintained its monopolistic control on all telephone equipment, and they did not allow anything but AT&T designed equipment for household use. See more »


When the Sturka car is being driven, there is engine noise but no road noise. See more »


Rod Serling - Narrator: [opening narration] Quitting time at the plant. Time for supper now. Time for families. Time for a cool drink on a porch. Time for the quiet rustle of leaf-laden trees that screen out the moon, and underneath it all, behind the eyes of the men, hanging invisible over the summer night, is a horror without words. For this is the stillness before storm. This is the eve of the end.
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User Reviews

A lesson in how to build up tension
25 May 2016 | by (the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls) – See all my reviews

"Third from the Sun" is an episode in the marvelous TV-series "The Twilight Zone" that should be showed in film classes all around the world and ought to be watched by every aspiring scriptwriter who considers writing his/her own (thriller or Sci-Fi) screenplay one day! Why? Not because of its legendary and infamous end twist (because, in all honesty, it's really not *that* difficult to predict), but because this episode masterfully demonstrates pure and non-stop tension building from start to finish! Throughout the entire running time, the three male protagonists behave suspicious, act extremely nervous and only share minimum bits of the information they have, and this doesn't just generate curiosity among their female counterparts but also among the viewers that guess along continuously. William Sturka and Jerry Riden are both employees of a secret governmental nuclear plant and dispose of inside information of a dreadful catastrophe about to happen in less than 48 hours. They plan an escape for them and their families, but their supervisor – the oddly menacing Mr. Carling – has figured out their intentions and subtly (…VERY subtly) confronts them. It has to be said, the twist at the end of this episode is pretty near to pure genius! Unfortunately the otherwise impeccable script, inspired by a short story by Richard Matheson - who else, suggests a little bit too obviously where it's going and the episode's title doesn't really help, neither. Still, also if you did envision the twist, "Third from the Sun" is particularly fun because you can – in retrospect – spot all the ingenious little details. For example, keep an eye open for that curious phone or listen to the bizarre noise of the car whilst driving…

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