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Third from the Sun

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Title: Third from the Sun  
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Third from the Sun

For the Richard Matheson story collection that carries the same title in some editions, see Born of Man and Woman (collection).
"Third from the Sun"
The Twilight Zone episode
Joe Maross in Third from the Sun
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 14
Directed by Richard L. Bare
Written by Teleplay by
Rod Serling
Based on the short story by
Richard Matheson
Production code 173-3615
Original air date January 8, 1960
Guest actors

"Third from the Sun" is episode 14 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It is based on a short story of the same name by Richard Matheson which first appeared in the first issue of the magazine Galaxy Science Fiction in October 1950.


  • Plot summary 1
  • Reception 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6

Plot summary

Will Sturka, a scientist who works at a military base run by the government, has been producing a great number of H-bombs in preparation for imminent nuclear war. Sturka realizes that there is only one way to escape—steal an experimental, top-secret spacecraft stored at the base. He plans to bring his co-worker Jerry Riden, along with their wives and Sturka's daughter Jody. The two plot for months, secretly supplying the ship and making arrangements for their departure.

When production of the bombs increases, Sturka realizes that time is running short. He and Riden decide to put their plan in action—take their families to the craft to tour it, and then overpower the guards and take off. Unfortunately, Sturka's superior Carling overhears the two men talking. Later that night, everyone gathers for a game of cards, where Riden reveals that he has found a place to go—a small planet 11 million miles away. During the game, Carling unexpectedly appears at the door; though he smiles and acts polite, he makes it clear that he knows what the group is planning. He also hints at trouble: "A lot can happen in forty-eight hours." After he leaves, Sturka and Riden inform the women that they must leave that very night.

When the five arrive at the site of the spacecraft, Sturka and Riden spot their contact, who flashes a light. When the contact steps forward, though, he is revealed to be Carling, armed with a gun. He forces Sturka and Riden away from the gate and prepares to call the authorities. The women, who have been waiting in the car, watch in horror as Carling orders them out. Jody suddenly throws the car's door open, knocking the gun from Carling's hand and giving the men enough time to overpower him. The group rushes into the ship, fighting off the guards that rush them.

Later that evening, the group has safely escaped their doomed planet and are on course. Riden comments that he cannot believe that there is a planet full of people like themselves. Sturka smiles as he points out on the ship's viewer their mysterious destination, 11 million miles away—the third planet from the Sun, called "Earth".


Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club rated it A and called the twist "justifiably famous".[1]

See also

  • "Probe 7, Over and Out", another Twilight Zone episode with a similar plot.
  • "The Invaders", another episode in which a farm woman encounters tiny "alien" astronauts (and their scaled down Forbidden Planet cruiser), who are actually Earthlings.
  • "Death Ship" is a TZ episode again featuring the Forbidden Planet Cruiser, where explorers find their ship E-89 has somehow already crashed on the alien planet they have just found.
  • Ancient astronaut theory


  1. ^ VanDerWeff, Todd (2011-10-22). """The Twilight Zone: "The Four Of Us Are Dying"/"Third From The Sun.  

Further reading

  • 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

  • "Third from the Sun" at the Internet Movie Database
  • episode page
  • Full video of the episode at
  • Matheson, Richard (October 1950). "Third from the Sun". Galaxy Science Fiction. p. 61. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
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