"Mr. Denton On Doomsday" is the third episode of the The Twilight Zone, and is the first encore presentation of the show.

From the CBS Video Library cover:

"Town drunk Al Denton (Dan Duryea), once a feared gunslinger but now an object of pity and scorn is forced to draw against a sadistic bully (Martin Landau). A glance from mysterious peddler Mr. Fate (Malcolm Atterbury) allows Denton to get off two miraculous shots, saving his life. Now a town hero, Denton regains his self-respect and swears off liquor. But soon, the routine that drove him to the bottle in the first place begins again -Denton is challenged to a shootout by a young hotshot (Doug McClure). Practicing, Denton finds his ability with a gun is long gone, In desperation, he turns to Fate for more magic. What Fate provides might just save Denton from a bullet...or it might do much, much more."[1]

Episode Details

Title Sequence

This was one of five episodes to include an eye, not a spiral, at the introduction, the others being Season 1's A World of His Own, The Mighty Casey, The After Hours and Mr. Bevis.[2]

Opening Narration

"Portrait of a town drunk named Al Denton. This is a man who's begun his dying early—a long agonizing route through a maze of bottles. Al Denton, who would probably give an arm or a leg or a part of his soul to have another chance, to be able to rise up and shake the dirt from his body and the bad dreams that infest his consciousness. In the parlance of the times, this is a peddler, a rather fanciful-looking little man in a black frock coat. (a Gun appears beside Denton) And this is the third principal character of our story. Its function? Perhaps to give Mister Al Denton his second chance."

Episode Summary

Al Denton was once known as the quickest draw in town, but his life was ruined after he killed a teenaged boy in a duel — he is now an alcoholic wreck and the laughing stock of the community. A mysterious salesman named Henry J. Fate ostensibly further dooms Denton by causing him to inexplicably regain his expert shooting touch and once again inspire the respect and awe of the townsfolk, which Denton explains will only cause reputation-hungry gunslingers from miles around to seek him out and, inevitably, kill him. Just as Denton predicted, soon enough a challenge is delivered which Denton dare not refuse.

The still-weary and not-so-sure-handed Denton practices in the desert for his suicidal duel, but he misses his targets miserably and concludes that he must skip town. As he quietly packs his things and tries to flee under the cover of night, he strikes up a conversation with Fate, who seems to know things about Denton and offers him a way out. Fate claims to possess a potion guaranteed to make the drinker the fastest gun in the West for exactly ten seconds. Denton is skeptical but Fate goads him into drinking a free sample, after which Denton immediately realizes its benefits.

Still, Denton knows that with Fate's magical potion he has extended his lease on life by only one gunfight; there will be no end to the challenges he will surely continue to receive.

At the appointed time, Denton faces his challenger Pete Grant, a young gunfighter who behaves like he knows he can't possibly lose. Denton downs his second potion only to find his opponent holding an identical empty bottle -- Fate had slyly provided the same elixir to young Grant. Each man shoots the other in the hand, causing injuries which are minor but forever ruin both men's ability to pull a trigger.

Denton tells his young opponent that they have both been blessed because they will never again be able to fire a gun in anger. Henry J. Fate tips his hat to Denton and rides quietly out of town. Just as Fate had helped one man out of a pit, he had simultaneously prevented another from falling into one.

Closing Narration

"Mr. Henry Fate, dealer in utensils and pots and pans, linaments and potions. A fanciful little man in a black frock coat who can help a man climbing out of a pit—or another man from falling into one. Because, you see, Fate can work that way...in the Twilight Zone."

Preview for Next Week's Story

"This motion picture projector and this film provide a background in next week's story when a most distinguished actress takes a journey into The Twilight Zone. Ms. Ida Lupino stars in "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine," a haunting story of a haunted woman, that I think you'll find interesting and perhaps shocking. We hope you'll join us then. Thank you and good night."

Preview for Another CBS Show

"Be sure to see the fun-filled family life on one of America's greatest entertainers, The Danny Thomas Show, Monday nights over the most of these stations!"


This episode dealt primarily with themes of Fate and Redemption of all kinds - from the physical, external redemption of Denton in town, to the internal redemption of Denton overcoming his alcoholism and moving on from the gunslinging world.

Another episode with the theme of a mysterious vendor inexplicably able to provide one with what one needs most is Season 1's What You Need.

This was one of many episodes to occur in the 19th Century but one of the few to feature characters that are cowboys in the Old West, which were popular on TV at the time.


Addiction | Fate | Redemption | Violence | Age | Old West

Background Information



Production Companies


  • Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1959) (USA) (TV) (original airing)
  • Corporation, The (2008) (France) (DVD)



  • Dan Duryea was paid $5,000 for his four days of work on this episode.[1]
  • This episode was the first The Twilight Zone episode to be rerun.[3]
  • This episode originally had the lagoon opening used by most of the first season episodes, but the blinking eye opening was dubbed over when they aired this episode as a summer repeat.
  • The harmonica music in the background is an old Russian folksong known as "Stenka Razin".

Cast Connections

Errors and Goofs

  • This episode featured the following anachronisms: TV antennas can be spotted in the distance.[2]

Memorable Quotes

Main article: List of memorable quotes from the first series

Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 CBS Video Library: Twilight Zone #0320 "Mr. Denton On Doomsday/The Shelter/The Lateness of the Hour/The Trouble With Templeton" ; UPC: 003200111996, EAN: ?, ASIN: ?; Format: NTSC, VHS, Collector's Edition (1987)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Internet Movie Database; Retrieved 2009-04-15
  3. Wikipedia: Mr. Denton On Doomsday

External Links

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