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"The Changing of the Guard" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone.

From the CBS Video Library cover:

"Expectant students scurry about apple-cheeked, wishing one and all good will and good cheer as they head home for Christmas. But for the saintly and elderly Professor Ellis Fowler, this holiday will be more than just a temporary respite from Academia. After 51 years of dedication to the boys of the Rock Hill Spring School, Professor Fowler is put out to pasture. Merry Christmas Ellis. Abject and miserable, he recalls the endless parade of students that came and went like apparitions in the night. Gun in hand, he returns to his classroom for one last class...but this time the Professor won't be teaching...he'll be learning a valuable lesson in another dimension."[1]

Episode Details

Opening Narration

"Professor Ellis Fowler, a gentle, bookish guide to the young, who is about to discover that life still has certain surprises, and that the campus of the Rock Springs School for Boys lies on a direct path to another institution, commonly referred to as the Twilight Zone."

Episode Summary

Professor Ellis Fowler is an elderly English literature teacher at a boys' prep school in Vermont, who is forced into retirement after teaching for more than 50 years at the school. Looking through his old yearbooks and reminiscing about his former students, he becomes convinced that all of his lessons have been in vain and that he has accomplished nothing with his life. Deeply depressed, he prepares to kill himself on the night of Christmas Eve next to a statue of the famous educator Horace Mann. Before he can commit suicide, however, he is called back to his classroom by a phantom bell, where he is visited by ghosts of several boys who were his students, some of whom later died heroically. The boys each tell him that he inspired them to become better men. Deeply moved, Fowler accepts his retirement, content that his life is fuller for having enriched the lives of the boys.

Closing Narration

"Professor Ellis Fowler, teacher, who discovered rather belatedly something of his own value. A very small scholastic lesson from the campus of - The Twilight Zone."

Production Companies


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

Home media release

This episode is included on the Image Entertainment Vol. 41 DVD along with "The Mighty Casey", "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" and "Come Wander With Me".


  • This episode seems to be similar to "It's a Wonderful Life".
  • Donald Pleasence was heavily made up in order to appear much older than his actual age of 42.
  • The quote Professor Fowler reads on the statue's plinth, "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity," is the motto of Rod Serling's alma mater Antioch College, and was said by its first president, Horace Mann, at the college's first commencement. Serling accepted a teaching post there after completing this script.

Memorable Quotes

Main article: List of memorable quotes from the first series

Notes and References


  1. CBS Video Library: Twilight Zone #0308 "Time Enough At Last/The Changing of the Guard/The After Hours/The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" ; UPC: 000308100198, EAN: ?, ASIN: ?; Format: NTSC, VHS, Collector's Edition (1987)


External Links