A Kind of a Stopwatch

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"A Kind of a Stopwatch"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 4
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(based on an unpublished story by Michael D. Rosenthal)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 appearance(s)

Richard Erdman: Patrick Thomas McNulty
Roy Roberts: Mr. Cooper
Leon Belasco: Potts
Herbie Faye: Joe Polucci
Doris Singleton: Secretary
Dick Wessel: Charlie (as Richard Wessel)
Ray Kellogg: Fred (as Ray Kellog)
Ken Drake: Daniel
Sam Balter: TV Announcer (uncredited)
Robert McCord: Man in Bar Doorway (uncredited)

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 a self-important bore in his 40s who has accomplished very little. One day, he is summoned by his boss. He is delighted, believing that his suggestions have earned him the recognition he feels he deserves. His boss, however, says that all of McNulty's suggestions deal with fields of enterprise in which the company is not involved. The boss fires McNulty for wasting his time.

McNulty goes to a bar, where he drives away the other patrons with his opinions about a sporting event. The bar owner requests that McNulty patronize another establishment. McNulty ignores him and buys a drink for the sole remaining patron, a drunk. The drunk gives McNulty his stopwatch. Thinking it an odd gift, McNulty quickly discovers that it can stop the passage of time.

McNulty tries to show his former boss the power of the stopwatch. McNulty says it can be used to make their company the largest in the world. His boss immediately dismisses him. Before leaving, McNulty uses the stopwatch mischievously to rearrange random things in the office. Returning to the bar, he tries to demonstrate the power of the watch to the customers, but eventually realizes that only he is affected by the watch. No one else is aware that time has stopped for him alone.

McNulty attempts to rob a bank, but he drops the watch. It breaks, freezing time permanently. Unaware of a way to repair it, McNulty runs around in a panic, ultimately begging the frozen people to talk or move, vainly promising to change his ways if only they will recognize him.


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.

Ideas from this episode were used in "A Little Peace and Quiet", an episode in the 1985 revival of The Twilight Zone. "The Day the Earth Didn't Move Around Very Much", a 1997 episode of the Cartoon Network series Johnny Bravo written by Seth MacFarlane, is a loose parody of "A Kind of a Stopwatch" and also mentions The Twilight Zone by name.

The Simpsons 2003 Halloween episode "Treehouse of Horror XIV" features a segment called "Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off", in which Bart and Milhouse buy a stopwatch that stops time. They use it to pull pranks on Springfield's residents.

The Fermata (ISBN 9780679415862) is a 1994 novel by Nicholson Baker. It is about a man named Arno Strine who can stop time, and uses this ability to embark on a series of sexual adventures.

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. 
  • 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]