Shadow Play (1961 The Twilight Zone episode)

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"Shadow Play"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 26
Directed by John Brahm
Written by Charles Beaumont (adapted from his short story, "Träumerei")
Production code 173-3657
Original air date May 5, 1961
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Silence"
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"The Mind and the Matter"
The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) (season 2)
List of The Twilight Zone episodes

"Shadow Play" is episode 62 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on May 5, 1961, on CBS.

Opening narration[edit]


A man convicted of murder, Adam Grant (Weaver), tries to convince those about to execute him that the world all around them is just his recurring nightmare. The story opens with the jury finding Grant guilty of murder and the judge sentencing him to death. He laughs uncontrollably, and exclaims that he refuses to die again. He claims that the district attorney and lawyers are all people he has known in his past, selected by his subconscious to play roles in his dream.

Speaking to others, including District Attorney Henry Ritchie, he points out logical errors accepted as normal by those around him, such as the fact that his arrest, trial, and execution are happening on the same day, and the fact the prisoners seem to stereotypically look like what you'd see in a story. He describes the electric chair execution experience, from the perspective of the condemned, to a fellow prisoner in the cell block in chilling graphic detail. Later, Paul Carson, a reporter and friend of (DA) Ritchie is questioning his own reality (he wonders about his impossibly perfect life). He persuades Ritchie to visit Grant. Ritchie speaks to Grant, but does not believe him. He asks Grant why he cares about dying if it's all a dream. Grant explains that he cannot get a decent night's sleep because he always wakes up screaming. He predicts what Ritchie's wife is preparing for dinner.

Ritchie goes home and finds that Grant's prediction is correct. This unnerves him, and he returns to the prison to talk with Carson. Carson says that Grant's claims call into question his sanity, and that Ritchie should ask the governor to issue a stay of execution. With reservations, Ritchie calls the governor, and the governor agrees to make the necessary phone call. The stay of execution arrives too late, Grant is executed, and the world descends into darkness and vanishes.

Grant finds himself back in the courtroom, being convicted and sentenced to death for murder again. The same people surround him in the courtroom, but their identities and roles have changed (e.g., a fellow inmate from the previous version of the dream is now the judge behind the bench). The viewer is left with the knowledge that this pattern will be repeated endlessly for the unfortunate Mr. Grant.

Closing narration[edit]



It was remade under the same title as part of the 1980s series in which Peter Coyote played Adam Grant.

It was also adapted for radio under the same title as part of The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas in which Ernie Hudson played Adam Grant.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Store". Twilight Zone Radio. 
  • 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]