36 best science fiction TV series, ranked worst to first

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Image: CBS

3. The Twilight Zone

As mentioned with The Outer Limits, the difference between it and The Twilight Zone is that Twilight Zone had a lot more fantasy elements mixed in with the hard science fiction storylines. However, when it comes to success, there is nothing that really touches The Twilight Zone for sci-fi anthology TV.

Created by Rod Sterling, Twilight Zone began to air in 1959 on CBS and ran for five seasons. Each episode was a standalone story that dealt with horror, fantasy and the supernatural, but also used science fiction as a plot device as well (such as nuclear war).

They almost always ended with a twist at the end that delivered the episode’s moral lesson of the evening.

Those five seasons resulted in 156 total episodes and no less than horror icon Richard Matheson helped write the episodes with Sterling and Charles Beaumont (the three men wrote 127 of the episodes).

That first season also included actors as famous as Bill Bixby, Carol Burnett, Charles Bronson, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Dennis Hopper, Ron Howard, Martin Landau, Burt Reynolds, Dean Stockwell, George Takei and Mickey Rooney.

In 1985, The Twilight Zone returned to television after Twilight Zone: The Movie hit theaters. This time, a variety of writers came onboard, but there were big names — Harlan Ellison, George R.R. Martin, Wes Craven and William Friedkin among them, and actors like Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman took on roles in episodes.

It lasted for three seasons and 65 episodes.

Finally, in 2002, UPN brought back The Twilight Zone again, this time with Forest Whitaker hosting the show. It only lasted one season — but with an astonishing 43 episodes, putting the total episodes of this science fiction TV anthology at 264.