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"The Shelter" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone.

From the CBS Video Library cover:

"During a party for beloved Dr. Stockton shocking news comes over the radio: radar has detected UFOs heading southeast; citizens are urged to go to their fallout shelters. Fearing imminent nuclear war, Doc locks himself and his family in the shelter he's had the foresight to build in his basement. But his neighbors aren't so lucky; they didn't build shelters. They plead with Doc to let them in. He refusesthere's only air and provisions for three...Whether the bombs come or not, these hapless men and women will discover their brutal trip through the Twilight Zone has destroyed them all."[1]

Opening Narration[]

What you are about to watch is a nightmare. It is not meant to be prophetic, it need not happen, it's the fervent and urgent prayer of all men of good will that it never shall happen. But in this place, in this moment, it does happen. This is the Twilight Zone.

Episode Summary[]

It is a typical evening in a typical suburban community. At the residence of physician Bill Stockton, he enjoys a birthday party being thrown for him by his wife Grace and their son Paul. Also at the party are Jerry Harlowe, Bill's brother-in-law; Frank Henderson and Marty Weiss, Bill and Jerry's former roommates; and the wives and children of Jerry, Frank, and Marty. Bill is well-known and liked by this gathering; he attended the State University with Marty, Frank, and Jerry. Moreover, Bill has repeatedly administered to the health and well being of each one of said guests and/or delivered their children. Everyone is especially friendly and jovial, even when mention is made of Bill's late-night work on a fallout shelter which he has built in his basement. Suddenly, a Civil Defense (CONELRAD) announcement overheard by young Paul, is made that unidentified objects have been detected heading for the United States. In these times, everybody knows what that means: nuclear attack. As panic ensues, the doctor locks himself and his family into his shelter. The same gathering of friends becomes hysterical and now wants to occupy the shelter. All of the previous cordiality is now replaced with soaring desperation; pent-up hostility, searing racism, and other suppressed emotions boil to the surface. Stockton offers his basement to the guests, but the shelter itself has sufficient air, provisions, and space for only three people (the Stocktons themselves). The once-friendly neighbors don't accept this; they break down the shelter door with an improvised battering ram. Just then, a final Civil Defense broadcast announces that the objects have been identified as harmless satellites and that no danger is present. The neighbors apologize for their behavior; yet Stockton wonders if they have destroyed each other without a bomb.

Closing Narration[]

No moral, no message, no prophetic tract.  Just a simple statement of fact. For civilization to survive, the human race has to remained civilized. Tonight's very small exercise in logic from the Twilight Zone.

Preview for Next Week's Story[]

Next week, we move back in time to April, 1865 - the aftermath of the Civil War, and a strange dusty road that leads to a most unbelievable adventure. On our show next week, "The Passersby." This one is for Civil War buffs, the mystics amongst you, or any and all who would want a brief vacation in The Twilight Zone.


This episode is essentially a more realistic version of "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street". It discusses how people can show their true colors in a pressure situation and become savages if it means that they have a chance to save their own life. 

Critical Response[]

Often thought of as among the finest episodes.

Home media release[]

This episode is included on the Image Entertainment Vol. 8 DVD along with "Third from the Sun", "To Serve Man" and "The Fugitive".


  1. CBS Video Library: Twilight Zone #0322 "The Silence/Kick the Can/A World of Difference/And When the Sky Was Opened" ; UPC: 000322060003, EAN: 0000322060003, ASIN: B0007LHU6O; Format: NTSC, VHS, Collector's Edition (1987)

External Links[]