"Showdown with Rance McGrew" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone.

Episode Details

Opening Narration

"Some one-hundred-odd years ago, a motley collection of tough moustaches galloped across the West and left behind a raft of legends and legerdemains, and it seems a reasonable conjecture that if there are any television sets up in cowboy heaven, and anyone of these rough-and-wooly nail-eaters could see with what careless abandon their names and exploits are being bandied about, they're very likely turning over in their graves - or worse, getting out of them. Which gives you a clue as to the proceedings that'll begin in just a moment, when one Mr. Rance McGrew, a three-thousand-buck-a-week phony-baloney discovers that this week's current edition of make-believe is being shot on location - and that location is The Twilight Zone."

Episode Summary

TV cowboy star Rance McGrew is ready to shoot a scene—in which Jesse James shoots him in the back—when he suddenly finds himself in a real Old West saloon. The real Jesse James walks in and explains that he, Billy the Kid and other famous outlaws are not pleased with the way that they are portrayed on McGrew's show. James then challenges McGrew, who has never shot a gun in his life, to a showdown. McGrew attempts to flee, but James corners him. McGrew drops to his knees, pleading. He says that he will do anything if James will only spare him. James accepts ("We may be stiffs up there...but we're sensitive."). McGrew finds himself back on the set, and his agent is announced. The agent turns out to be Jesse James himself, in Hollywood garb (wearing a beret and a loud sport shirt), come to ensure that outlaws get their due, beginning with the TV bad guy throwing McGrew out the saloon window.

Closing Narration

"The evolution of the so-called 'adult' western, and the metamorphosis of one Rance McGrew, formerly phony-baloney, now upright citizen with a preoccupation with all things involving tradition, truth, and cowpoke predecessors. It's the way the cookie crumbles and the six-gun shoots - in The Twilight Zone."

Preview for Next Week's Story

For all of us, even the most young at heart, I suppose there's a little kernel of want having to do with reliving childhood - that grand and glorious moment in time when the biggest guy around is the patrol boy. Next week on The Twilight Zone, this moment is recaptured in George Clayton Johnson's exceptionally sensitive story called "Kick the Can." It co-stars Mr. Ernest Truex and Mr. Russell Collins.


  • Rod Serling (Narrator
  • Larry Blyden: Rance McGrew
  • Arch Johnson: Jesse James
  • Robert Cornthwaite: Director
  • Robert Kline: T.V. Jesse James
  • William McLean: Property Man
  • Troy Melton: Cowboy #1
  • Jay Overholts: Cowboy #2
  • Robert J. Stevenson: T.V. Bartender
  • Hal K. Dawson: Old Man
  • Jim Turley: T.V. Double for Rance

Production Companies


  • Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1959) (USA) (TV) (original airing)

Memorable Quotes

Main article: List of memorable quotes from the first series

External Links

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