The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
19 user 7 critic

To Serve Man 

An alien race comes to Earth, promising peace and sharing technology. A linguist and his team set out to translate the aliens' language, using a book whose title they deduce is "To Serve Man".


Richard L. Bare


Rod Serling (teleplay by), Damon Knight (based on a story by) | 1 more credit »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Lloyd Bochner ... Michael Chambers
Susan Cummings ... Patty
Richard Kiel ... Kanamit
Hardie Albright ... Secretary General
Theodore Marcuse ... Citizen Gregori
Bartlett Robinson ... Colonel #1
Carleton Young ... Colonel #2 (as Carlton Young)
Nelson Olmsted ... Scientist
Robert Tafur Robert Tafur ... Señor Valdes
Lomax Study Lomax Study ... Leveque
Jerry Fujikawa ... Japanese Delegate (as J.H. Fujikawa)


Michael Chambers recounts recent events on Earth after the arrival of a alien space craft. The aliens, known as Kanamit, seem friendly and assure everyone they have nothing to be afraid of. In fact, they offer to share wonderful technology that will provide limitless energy, cure all disease and convert deserts into lush gardens. For the people of Earth, paradise has arrived. Chambers is an encryption specialist and they try their best to decrypt a book the Kanamit left behind. The book's title seems benign - but it's not what they think it is. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis







English | French | Japanese | Spanish

Release Date:

2 March 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

To Serve Man See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The establishing shot - of New York City's Time Square area, is stock footage from 1949, as both visible movie marquees (The Strand in the upper-left), as well as the Globe Theatre (mid-left) are showing 2 films; (My Dream Is Yours (1949), and Champion (1949) (at the aforementioned cinemas, respectively) which were both playing at that time. See more »


Chambers compares translating the Kanamit book into English to decoding Japanese messages in World War II. This analogy makes no sense. The WWII code-breakers took a coded message which looked like a meaningless string of Japanese characters, and reversed the coding process to produce a readable Japanese message. The problem here is not that the Kanamits coded their book, but that no one on Earth knows the Kanamit language. There is no way that they could take the book by itself and translate it if they did not have a "Rosetta stone". See more »


Michael Chambers: Well, that makes the cheese a little more binding, wouldn't you say, Colonel?
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Referenced in Broken Orbit (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

It Ain't Denny's
2 February 2017 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

No need to recap the plot. The half hour's likely the best known of all TZ entries. No doubt a lot has to do with the delicious central irony. But then the half-hour's also very well produced. The segments at the UN are both well staged and cast, though the representatives are largely familiar stereotypes (Soviet Union, Japan). Also, Kiel's make-up as the giant Kanamit appears seamless. That is, I couldn't spot where his head ended and the brain extension began. But please, I'd like to get a job as a decoder next to Bochner so maybe I could work alongside the luscious Susan Cummings. I'll bet the Kanamit is eyeing her for a holiday repast. Note in passing how the good folks line up for the space ship, just like they're responding to a cattle call. How ironic. Anyway, the storyline's very well done, hooking us right away with Bochner's puzzling cell confinement. Still, it's kind of tricky material that manages a chuckle rather than a yuk thanks to an expert production crew.

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