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.


Lamont Johnson


Rod Serling (teleplay by), Marvin Petal (based on a short story by) | 1 more credit »




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



Did You Know?


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 »


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: [the Major has fallen out of the cylinder] Brave man. Not a very bright one.
The Ballerina: He'll come back for us. I know he will.
The Clown: He may be back, but it won't be to get us. He may have been right at that. He may have been very right. This may be Hell.
See more »


Spoofed in Weird Science: Sci-Fi Zoned (1995) See more »


Twilight Zone Theme
(theme song)
Composed by Marius Constant
(seasons 2-5)
See more »

User Reviews

Confined bizarreness at its finest
8 May 2019 | by UniqueParticleSee all my reviews

Cube (1997) is based on this spectacular episode & it's vastly intelligent; abundantly benevolent and nightmarishly perfect!

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Release Date:

22 December 1961 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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