The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
21 user 4 critic

The Changing of the Guard 

After being forced to retire, Professor Fowler contemplates suicide when he doesn't feel he has made a difference in the world. That night he has an experience that shows him that he is wrong.


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Episode complete credited cast:
Philippa Bevans ...
Mrs. Landers - Housekeeper
Artie Beechcroft
Russell Horton ...
Buddy Joe Hooker ...
Boy (as Buddy Hart)
Graham (as Bob Biheller)
Kevin O'Neal ...
Jimmy Baird ...
Kevin Jones ...
Darryl Richard ...
James Browning ...
Pat Close ...
Dennis Kerlee ...


Professor Ellis Fowler has been teaching at the Rock Spring School for Boys for a great many years. In fact, he taught the grandfather of one of his current students. Just before Christmas however, he's told by the headmaster that his contract will not be renewed for the new year. Despondent, he returns home convinced that his life has been wasted and decides to end it all. Before he can do so however, his is visited by some very special students from the past who give him cause to reconsider. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis






Release Date:

1 June 1962 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Student Dicky Weiss quotes John Donne, from "No Man Is An Island": "Any man's death diminishes me, / Because I am involved in mankind, / And therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; / It tolls for thee." Student Bartlett quotes Howard Arnold Walter from "I Would Be True": "I would be true, for there are those who trust me; / I would be pure, for there are those who care; / I would be strong, for there is much to suffer; / I would be brave, for there is much to dare." See more »


When Professor Fowler is looking out the window listening to the singers, he is wearing glasses in some angles and not wearing glasses in others. See more »


[closing narration]
Narrator: 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.
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It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
Lyrics by Edmund Hamilton Sears
Music by Richard Storrs Willis
Performed by Christmas carolers
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User Reviews

We Can Make a Difference
10 December 2008 | by See all my reviews

I'm sure there are a lot of teachers who weigh in on this episode. I've been teaching for 39 years and one of the most gratifying parts of the job is when I see my previous students years later. There are times when we wonder, as the professor does, if what we say and do makes any difference. Obviously, the subject matter is what we gage our success on, but it's really the character of the people that count. Rod Serling must have known this and presented it so well. The Professor has been let go after a particularly hard day, distracted students and so on. He drops into depression, seeing his life as meaningless. He stands by a statue of Horace Mann, the father of modern education, and puts a gun to his head. Then, miraculously, the bells begin to ring at the school. When he enters his room he is met with a great surprise.

This is a touching episode. Had it not been the Twilight Zone, it would have made a wonderful drama. Donald Pleasance's acting is superb. It is understated and emotional. It's just a beautiful. Personally, this may be my favorite of all the Zones.

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