A Kind of a Stopwatch

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"A Kind of a Stopwatch"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 124
Directed by John Rich
Written by Rod Serling
(based on an unpublished story by Michael D. Rosenthal)
Featured music Nathan Van Cleave
Production code 2609
Original air date October 18, 1963
Guest actors

Richard Erdman: Patrick Thomas McNulty
Roy Roberts: Mr. Cooper
Leon Belasco: Potts
Herbie Faye: Joe
Doris Singleton: Secretary

Episode chronology
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"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"
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List of Twilight Zone episodes

"A Kind of a Stopwatch"[1] is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. Star Pulse ranks this as the best episode of the series.[2]


Patrick McNulty is in his 40's and is the biggest bore on the planet. He holds a ten year record for the most meaningless things said. One day McNulty is asked to go to his boss and he is delighted believing his ideas have earned him the recognition he feels he deserves. His boss points out that most of his ideas are directed at areas the company is not involved in and fires him for putting meaningless suggestions in the suggestion box. McNulty goes to a bar, where everyone leaves after being annoyed by McNulty talking over a sports game, The owner moans that this happens every day and request that he please drink somewhere else, but McNulty ignores him. At the bar, a drunken man gives him a stopwatch for buying him a drink. Thinking of it as an odd gift, McNulty uses it and realizes that it actually stops time.

McNulty goes back to the office to try to show his former boss the power of the stopwatch. McNulty says if he figures out how it works, they would be the biggest company on the planet. His boss, Mr. Cooper, does not even let McNulty speak. McNulty leaves but messes things up in the office before he goes. He then tries to demonstrate the power of the watch to the customers in the bar but eventually realizes (much later than the viewing audience) that only he is aware of the effects, as he is the only person not frozen in time.

McNulty realizes that with the stopwatch, he can get a lot of money. McNulty goes to rob a bank, but drops the watch, breaking it and thereby freezing time permanently. McNulty runs off trying to fix it, to return time to his place, begging people to talk and move, promising too late to change his ways.


The television episode was later adapted as an episode of The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas series—under the title "A Kind of Stopwatch"—featuring Lou Diamond Phillips in the lead role.[3]

Parodies, pastiches, and allusions[edit]

A nearly identical premise appears in the novel "The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything". It was published in 1962 (a year before the writing of this episode) and also features a stopwatch that can freeze time.

"A Kind of Stopwatch" in particular is parodied in the following episode of The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror XIV" (2 November 2003), in the segment, "Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off."[4]

In addition, ideas from this episode were used in "A Little Peace and Quiet", an episode in the 1985 revival of The Twilight Zone.

In one of the Time Warp Trio books by Jon Sciezka (Summer Reading Is Killing Me), Fred mentions that the town's emptiness reminds him of "a Twilight Zone episode where this guy gets a stopwatch that can stop and start time, and then it breaks when it's stopped and he goes crazy!" which is met with a less than enthusiastic response.

The Stopwatch powerup from Super Mario Bros. 2 (US) is said to be an allusion to this episode.[citation needed]

There is also an episode from The Garfield Show, the new show which is aired from 2008-present, which features a similar story with the stopwatch.

The British children's television show Bernard's Watch, created by Andrew Norriss, which ran on CITV from 1997 to 2001 and from 2004 until 2005 features a similar watch. Bernard and his friends generally use it for good or to solve every day problems but sometimes for personal gain or to play tricks. The first three series were novelized by Norriss and published by Penguin Books under their Puffin brand in 1999.

Futurama's series finale, Meanwhile, has a similar plot.

See also[edit]

References and further reading[edit]

  1. ^ "A Kind of Stopwatch" is the title on the script, two versions of which were published in As Timeless as Infinity: The Complete Twilight Zone Scripts of Rod Serling, Volume 3, edited by Tony Albarella (Gauntlet Press, 2007). The original scripts (both versions) are part of The Rod Serling Archives at Ithaca College.
  2. ^ "Top Ten 'Twilight Zone' Episodes". Starpulse.com. 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2013-07-02. 
  3. ^ "The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas: A Kind of Stopwatch". Twilightzoneradio.com. Retrieved 2013-07-02. 
  4. ^ The Simpsons, Episode 1501[dead link]
  • DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0
  • Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)

External links[edit]