The Outer Limits (1995–2002)
4 user

Dead Man's Switch 

An American soldier learns that he is one of five people around the world who are separately sealed underground for a year and are charged with preventing Earth's self-destruction as the world awaits a possible invasion by aliens.


Jeff Woolnough


Ben Richardson


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Episode complete credited cast:
James Le Gros ... Ben Conklin (as James LeGros)
Kristin Lehman ... Katya Rubinov
Donnelly Rhodes ... General James Eiger
Yee Jee Tso ... Hong
Merrilyn Gann ... Gwen Wellington
Ellis Williams Ellis Williams ... Donald


Ben Conklin is a last-minute replacement for a long-term isolation assignment. He's advised by General James Eiger that, some time ago, long range probes identified an alien force heading directly for Earth. In the event they should lose any battle with the aliens, they have arranged for a self-destruct mechanism to destroy all life on the planet. The system will automatically fire, giving Conklin 30 seconds to hit the kill switch. Eiger tells him that if they succeed, they will dig him out in about a year's time; if they don't appear, he should assume the worst. Conklin learns that there are four others in different locations around the world who can also stop the doomsday device from firing. For most of the year, not much happens. Conklin becomes friendly with Katya Rubinov, but when his counterparts start to die, he considers letting the timer count down. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis



Did You Know?


The film that Ben and Katya watch is actually a clip from The Outer Limits: Paradise (1996). See more »


When she introduces herself to Ben, Katya says that she is a member of the Russian Republic Army. However, the official name of the Russian state is the Russian Federation. See more »


Features Space Invaders (1978) See more »

User Reviews

Is This the Safest and Best Way to Accomplish This?
18 May 2014 | by HitchcocSee all my reviews

Once I got over the absurdity of the plan put in place by the military leaders, I did begin to care about the principle figures. Place in bunkers spread around the world, four people are given the task of monitoring a fail-safe system. Aliens are on their way to Earth and their level of hostility is unknown. The plan is to put a doomsday machine in place (makes sense to me) that will loose nuclear and chemical weapons. Should the aliens be hostile (assuming they have the ability to destroy earth) they will be beaten to the punch. This, at its altruistic worst, seems a bit risky. The future of the world rest in the hands of a group of bored people, sealed underground who must get to a red button and a recognition hand print and stop the machine from going off. This is to be done in less than 60 seconds. They are to be kept in this state for one year, at which time it is estimated the aliens will arrive on earth. At one point they become annoyed with each other over whose turn it is to save the world. For me, the choice of people to take on this task seems arbitrary and dangerous: one is a forlorn soldier (the main character, I guess), one is a middle aged woman, one is a video game playing Asian guy (Atari and Gameboy, of course), and a beautiful Russian woman who has been ordered by her government to do this. The episode has relationships forming among the characters, numerous close calls, and a conclusion that has been done before (I won't spoil it). This series occasionally became really cynical and this is no exception. It's certainly entertaining but really fizzles out at the conclusion.

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Release Date:

4 April 1997 (USA) See more »

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Production Co:

Atlantis Films See more »
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