The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
21 user 3 critic

The Shelter 

A suburban dinner party is interrupted by a bulletin warning of an impending nuclear attack. As the neighbors scramble to prepare themselves, they turn against the one family that installed a permanent bomb shelter.


Lamont Johnson


Rod Serling, Rod Serling (created by)




Episode complete credited cast:
Larry Gates ... Dr. Bill Stockton
Joseph Bernard Joseph Bernard ... Marty Weiss
Jack Albertson ... Jerry Harlowe
Peggy Stewart ... Grace Stockton
Sandy Kenyon ... Frank Henderson
Michael Burns ... Paul Stockton
Jo Helton ... Martha Harlowe
Moria Turner Moria Turner ... Mrs. Weiss
Mary Gregory Mary Gregory ... Mrs. Henderson
John McLiam ... Man


Dr. Bill Stockton has prepared well for any eventuality. He's built a bomb shelter for himself, his wife and his child. His neighbors on the other hand have done nothing to prepare. During a dinner party, there is an emergency announcement on the radio that unidentified objects have been sighted en route to the US and they may be under attack. As the Stockton's prepare to use their shelter their neighbors panic asking to be let into the shelter with them. Stockton refuses leading to an angry confrontation. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

29 September 1961 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Early in the story, Paul tells the adults that their TV set has gone blank and that the viewers have been told to tune into the CONELRAD stations. CONELRAD - which stood for Control of Electromagnetic Radiation - was a Civil Defense radio system that went into effect on December 10, 1951. Under CONELRAD, most AM radio stations and all FM radio and TV stations in the United States would go off the air in the event of a national emergency. Selected AM stations would then air official information and instructions to the public on the 640 and 1240 frequencies on the AM dial. Radios sold in the United States from 1953 to 1963 were required to display the triangular Civil Defense symbol on their dials at those frequencies. Effective August 5, 1963, CONELRAD was replaced by the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), under which most AM, FM, and TV stations would remain on the air in the event of an emergency, but would switch over to official news and information. On January 1, 1997, EBS was replaced by the current Emergency Alert System (EAS), which is essentially EBS plus cable TV and satellite TV and radio. See more »


The large jug Bill carries is full of water, then empty. See more »


Man: Why don't we get some kind of battering ram?
Frank Henderson: Yeah, we could go over to Bennett Avenue, Phil Cline has some heavy pipe in his basement, I've seen it.
Man: No, no, that would bring him into the act too, and who cares about saving him? No, if we do that, we'll let all those people know we have a shelter on our street. We'll have a whole mob to contend with, with a whole bunch of strangers.
Mrs. Henderson: Sure, and what right have they got to come over here? This isn't their street, this isn't *their* shelter.
Jerry Harlowe: Ohhhh, ...
See more »


Happy Birthday to You
Written by Mildred J. Hill and Patty S. Hill
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

What Would You Do
13 July 2016 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

This is a really unnerving entry, probably because it hits so close to home for not just Cold War 1961, but even now. Nonetheless, 1961 was a time when a Hot War could break out at any moment, which the 30-minutes capitalizes on. Note how the opening shows our typical suburban community in joyous abandon. That sets up the tragedy that follows, when reports of atomic missiles striking are broadcast. Immediately, the boisterous good feeling collapses into panic as family survival suddenly becomes uppermost. The problem is that only one of the families has followed Civil Defense instructions to construct a bomb shelter. Thus the Stocktons rush to their shelter, while the others frantically mill about. Having nowhere obvious to go, the panicked, folks plead with the Stocktons to share their shelter. But the confines are too small, so Dad Stockton refuses. But what will happen now that suburban comity has collapsed into sheer clamor for survival.

As I recall, this was a 'water cooler' episode that attracted considerable attention, as folks wondered what they would do in similar circumstances. However, the underlying subtext could apply to any calamitous situation, and what a person or family would do once ordinary bonds are shattered. Thus, the theme has much broader application than Cold War 1961.

The acting here is first-rate, making us feel the desperate fright. Given the alarming relevancy to the time, I expect the producers were especially concerned how the results would be popularly taken. After all, the topic was not really about another time or another place far away. All in all, it's a riveting, if unsettling, 30-minutes.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 21 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed