A Quality of Mercy

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For other uses, see The Quality of Mercy.
"A Quality of Mercy"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 15
Directed by Buzz Kulik
Written by Rod Serling from a story by Sam Rolfe
Production code 4809
Original air date December 29, 1961
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of Twilight Zone episodes

"A Quality of Mercy" is episode 80 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone, which originally aired on December 29, 1961. The title is taken from a notable speech in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, which is quoted in Serling's closing narration at the end of the episode. It was later adapted into the first segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie, although very loosely.


A young gung-ho American in World War II, Second Lieutenant Katell, orders his war-weary soldiers to make a near suicidal attack on a group of sick and wounded Japanese soldiers holed up in a cave. Sgt. Causarano, who knows the men have had enough of war, tries to talk him out of it—the attack will accomplish nothing but pointless deaths on both sides—but Katell pulls rank and stands firm on his orders, intent on proving himself.

Suddenly, Lt. Katell finds himself in Corregidor, three years earlier in the war, and gets a new perspective. As Lt. Yamuri in the Japanese army, he is ordered to attack a group of American soldiers in the cave. In vain, he tries to dissuade the captain from the attack, but the Japanese captain believes the young man is sick with jungle fever or, worse, has lost his nerve. He tells him to straighten up or stay with the wounded.

His mind reeling from what he has just experienced, Katell finds himself back in 1945 as an American soldier, with his men telling him that they've gotten word the A-bomb has been dropped. They have been ordered not to attack the cave and to fall back. Katell seems relieved, in light of his revelation.


Some of the cast members became well known in later science-fiction television series. Dean Stockwell became known to science-fiction fans as Al Calavicci in the television series Quantum Leap, and for another generation, as Cavil in the remake series of Battlestar Galactica. Leonard Nimoy became known as Spock in Star Trek. Michael Pataki also made appearances on Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation.


Opening narration[edit]

It's August, 1945, the last grimy pages of a dirty, torn book of war. The place is the Philippine Islands. The men are what's left of a platoon of American Infantry, whose dulled and tired eyes set deep in dulled and tired faces can now look toward a miracle, that moment when the nightmare appears to be coming to an end. But they've got one more battle to fight, and in a moment we'll observe that battle. August, 1945, Philippine Islands. But in reality it's high noon in the Twilight Zone.

Closing narration[edit]

'The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.' Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, but applicable to any moment in time, to any group of soldiery, to any nation on the face of the Earth - or, as in this case, to the Twilight Zone.


The episode would later be remade into the first segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), with a modern-day approach in which the main character, Bill Connor (played by Vic Morrow) is a racist worker who is upset after a promotion is passed on him for a Jewish man. After going into a bigoted rant in a bar, he is then taken on a trip through time and is given similar justice of intolerance; a Jewish man during the Holocaust, an African-American being lynched by the Ku Klux Klan and a Vietnamese being attacked by American soldiers during the Vietnam War. It was directed by John Landis. While filming the Vietnam scene of the segment, Morrow and two young child actors were killed during a helicopter stunt. Later, Landis along with the film's producers were put on trial for manslaughter and child endangerment, but were found not guilty on all counts. While the script originally intended for Connor to be redeemed (as in the episode it was based on) by saving the two children, Morrow's death necessitated a darker ending because the available footage did not include the happy ending. However, the original ending was featured in the novelization.

Episode notes[edit]

  • This episode was filmed on a soundstage at Hal Roach Studios, instead of the usual MGM facilities.[1]
  • End titles screen features the broken binoculars through which the 'enemies' are watched.


  1. ^ Zicree, Mark Scott (1982). The Twilight Zone Companion. Bantam. p. 242. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1. 
  • 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]