Death Ship (The Twilight Zone)

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"Death Ship"
The Twilight Zone episode
Death Ship.jpg
Cruiser E-89 about to land
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 6
Directed by Don Medford
Written by Richard Matheson (based on his short story)
Featured music Stock
Production code 4850
Original air date February 7, 1963
Guest appearance(s)

Jack Klugman: Capt. Paul Ross
Ross Martin: Lt. Ted Mason
Mary Webster: Ruth Mason
Tammy Marihugh: Jeannie Mason
Frederick Beir: Lt. Mike Carter
Sara Taft: Mrs. Nolan
Ross Elliott: Kramer

Episode chronology
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List of Twilight Zone episodes

"Death Ship" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone, based on a short story with the same title by Richard Matheson.

Opening narration[edit]


The Space Cruiser E-89, crewed by Captain Paul Ross, Lt. Ted Mason and Lt. Mike Carter, is on a mission to analyze new worlds and discover if they are suitable for colonization by Earth. Their mission has thus far been routine, but while investigating an uninhabited world, Mason sees a metallic glint in the landscape. He excitedly conjectures that this might be a sign of alien life, but the pragmatic Captain Ross disagrees. Nevertheless, the Cruiser prepares to land next to the mysterious object.

After landing, the men are astounded to see that the gleaming comes from the wreck of a ship exactly like their own. Ross urges caution and restraint but is ignored; the trio heads over to the wreck to investigate it. They soon see that it is indeed the same model of ship as the E-89. Making their way into the interior of the craft, they discover their own lifeless bodies in the wreckage. Mason and Carter are numb with shock as Ross furiously struggles for a logical explanation. He finally decides that they have bent time in such a way as to get a glimpse of the future. All they have to do to avoid their grisly fate is stay on the ground and keep from going back up into space, therefore avoiding the accident. Mason is skeptical and Carter seems disoriented, but they agree with Ross' assessment.

Soon, Carter seemingly finds himself transported back to a pleasant country lane on Earth. There he encounters figures from his past who are dead. He runs to the house that he and his wife shared, and finds it empty except for a telegram notifying Mary Carter that her husband has died in the line of duty.

Carter is wrenched from his vision by Ross, who says he is suffering a delusion. If so, it is a delusion Mason shares. He has just had an emotional reunion with his dead wife and child. When Ross pulls him back to reality, Mason strikes his Captain in rage. Ross, though, now has a new theory of what is going on: He believes the planet is inhabited by telepathic aliens who are using the humans' fear of death to keep them away from their world. Ross says that if they take the E-89 back up to space, that should break the spell.

The men take E-89 back in orbit without a hitch. Mason and Carter grudgingly admit that Ross may have been right about the aliens, but are stunned when Ross says they are going to land the craft again to gather foreign samples to bring back to Earth. After all, now that they know what is going on, what is there left to fear?

The crew lands again, only to discover the wreck of their craft is still present. Confused and fearful, Mason and Carter come to the one and only conclusion left: that they have crashed and are dead. Ross refuses to accept the truth, his stubborn will holding sway over the troubled crew. Ross exclaims that they will go over it again and again until he figures it out. Suddenly, the episode cuts back to Mason's discovery of the glinting object on the planet. "I don't see anything," Ross shrugs.

Closing narration[edit]

Production notes[edit]

The model of the hovering spaceship is that of a C-57D Starcruiser, a leftover prop from MGM's 1956 film Forbidden Planet. The crashed ship was a realistically painted model/set.[1] The prop was also used in the 1960 Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street".[2]

A crew member shirt, also used in the episode "On Thursday We Leave for Home" was offered at auction in late September 2015 by Profiles in History with an estimated value of US$1,000 to $1,500, with a winning bid of US$1,600.[3]


  • Jack Klugman – as Capt. Paul Ross
  • Ross Martin – as Lt. Ted Mason
  • Fred Beir (as Fredrick Beir) – as Lt. Mike Carter
  • Mary Webster – as Ruth Mason
  • Ross Elliott – as Kramer
  • Sara Taft – as Mrs. Nolan
  • Tammy Marihugh – as Jeannie Mason


  1. ^ Zicree, Marc Scott (1982). The Twilight Zone Companion (second ed.). Silman-James. 
  2. ^ Rod Serling FAQ
  3. ^ Hollywood Auction 74. California: Profiles in History. 2015. p. 358. Lot 1017. Shirt made for Forbidden Planet and used in Twilight Zone episodes. (CBS TV, 1959-1964) Vintage futuristic shirt consisting of an iridescent gray blue short sleeve shirt with zipper front closure, 2-breast pockets, and soft sculpture bright red fabric crescents attached to shoulders. Ultimately unused in Forbidden Planet, the shirt does appear in two episodes of The Twilight Zone; "Death Ship" and "On Thursday We Leave for Home". With minor fading and discoloration to some areas. In vintage very good to fine. $1,000 - $1,500.  (Auction took place September 29, 30, October 1, 2015.)
  • 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

External links[edit]