The Hitch-Hiker (The Twilight Zone)

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"The Hitch-Hiker"
The Twilight Zone episode
Inger Stevens Twilight Zone 1960.jpg
Inger Stevens in a scene from the episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 16
Directed by Alvin Ganzer
Written by Teleplay by
Rod Serling
Based on radio play by
Lucille Fletcher
Featured music Stock, featuring Bernard Herrmann's score for the original radio version of "The Hitch-Hiker"
Production code 173-3612
Original air date January 22, 1960
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"I Shot an Arrow into the Air"
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"The Fever"
List of season 1 episodes
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"The Hitch-Hiker" is episode sixteen of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on January 22, 1960 on CBS. It is based on Lucille Fletcher's The Hitch-Hiker.

It is considered by some to be among the series' greatest episodes.[1][2][3]


The story begins with Nan Adams, whose vehicle gets a flat tire and has an accident on a cross-country road trip from New York City to Los Angeles. A mechanic puts a spare tire on her car, comments that he's surprised she survived the accident, saying "you shouldn't've called for a mechanic, somebody shoulda called for a hearse" and directs her to the nearest town to fix it properly. Just before she leaves, Nan notices a strange-looking man hitchhiking. Unnerved, she drives away quickly. As she continues her trip, Nan sees the same hitchhiker thumbing for a ride at several other points on her journey. She becomes increasingly frightened of him, and when she is stuck on a railroad crossing and nearly hit by a train, she becomes convinced that the hitchhiker is trying to kill her by beckoning her into danger. She continues to drive, becoming more and more afraid, stopping only when necessary; but every time she does, the same hitchhiker is there.

When she ends up stranded in New Mexico, she meets a sailor on his way back to San Diego from leave. Eager for protection from the hitchhiker she's been seeing, she offers to drive the sailor to San Diego herself. However, she is still paranoid about the hitchhiker, and when she sees him on the road she tries to run him over. The sailor, who can't see him, begins to fear for her sanity and leaves her. In Arizona, Nan stops to call her mother. The woman who answers the phone says that Mrs. Adams is in the hospital; she had a nervous breakdown after finding out that her daughter, Nan, was killed in a car accident in Pennsylvania six days ago when the car she was driving blew a tire and overturned. At this point, Nan realizes the truth: she did not survive the accident at the beginning of the episode, and the hitchhiker is not a man who wants her to die, but is rather the personification of death, patiently and persistently waiting for her to realize that she has been dead all along.

Nan returns to the car and sees the hitchhiker sitting in the back seat through the reflection of the vanity mirror on the visor. "I believe you're way?", he inquires.



Opening narration[edit]

Closing narration[edit]

Episode notes[edit]

Rod Serling modeling an airplane with actress Inger Stevens, 1960

In the original radio play by Lucille Fletcher, the character of Nan was a man named Ronald Adams. The Hitch-Hiker was first presented on the Orson Welles Show (1941), Philip Morris Playhouse (1942), Suspense (1942), and The Mercury Summer Theater (1946). All of these radio productions starred Orson Welles as Ronald Adams.

Serling named his character "Nan", after one of his daughters.

Nan's car is a 1959 Mercury Montclair whose inside rear-view mirror and front door vent panes have been removed.

According to Inger Stevens' narration, Nan's encounter with a passenger train occurs at a railroad crossing somewhere between Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Yet the train's markings and number board show it to be Southern Pacific train #99, the westbound Coast Daylight, which travelled between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The train is led by Southern Pacific E7A locomotive 6001, which was assigned to Daylight service from 1953 until it was retired in 1968.

When the teleplay was adapted for radio on The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas in 2002, the role of Nan Adams was played by Kate Jackson.


  1. ^ Cruz, Gilbert (October 2, 2009). "The Hitch Hiker (1960)". TIME. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  2. ^ Wheatley, Cliff (June 27, 2014). "The Top 10 Twilight Zone Episodes". IGN. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  3. ^ Morgan, David. "The 10 greatest "Twilight Zone" episodes: "The HItch-Hiker"". CBS. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  • 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]