I Shot an Arrow into the Air

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"I Shot an Arrow into the Air"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 15
Directed byStuart Rosenberg
Story byMadelon Champion
Teleplay byRod Serling
Featured musicStock from "And When the Sky Was Opened" by Leonard Rosenman
Production code173-3626
Original air dateJanuary 15, 1960
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Third from the Sun"
Next →
"The Hitch-Hiker"
The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) (season 1)
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"I Shot an Arrow into the Air" is episode 15 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.

Opening narration[edit]


A manned space flight with eight crew members crash lands on what the astronauts believe to be an unknown asteroid, their expectations of survival or rescue are bleak. Only four of the crew survive: the commanding officer Donlin, crewmen Corey and Pierson, and a crewman who is barely alive. After they bury the dead men, Donlin and Pierson concern themselves with taking care of the injured crewman, but Corey, realizing water is in short supply, is only concerned about saving himself, setting himself at odds with Donlin and Pierson. After the injured crewman dies, Donlin has Corey and Pierson trek out into the barren desert to see if there is anything that might improve their chances of survival. Six hours later, Corey returns but Pierson does not, and Corey claims not to know where Pierson is. Donlin calls Corey out on having more water in his canteen now, than what he left with, and demands to know where Pierson is. Corey claims that he found Pierson dead and filched the water supply from his dead body. Donlin forces Corey at gunpoint to lead him to Pierson's body to see for himself.

They find Pierson, still barely alive, who with his last bit of strength draws a primitive diagram in the sand with his finger, and then dies. Corey confesses that he attacked Pierson earlier, and he then kills Donlin and sets out alone, confident that he will survive longer now that he has all of the water supply. Corey climbs a nearby mountain and sees a sign for Reno, and then sees telephone poles, which were what Pierson had attempted to draw before he died. Realizing that they had in fact never left Earth and that he had killed his partners for nothing, Corey breaks down weeping.

Closing narration[edit]

Episode notes[edit]

I got 15,000 manuscripts in the first five days. Of those 15,000, I and members of my staff read about 140, and 137 of those 140 were wasted paper; hand-scrawled, laboriously written, therapeutic unholy grotesqueries from sick, troubled, deeply disturbed people. Of the three remaining scripts, all of clearly poetic, professional quality, none of them fitted the show.

Despite this, Serling did end up producing an idea from an industry outsider when he paid Madelon Champion $500 for the idea on which this episode was based, an idea that came up in a social conversation between the two.[1] Though Serling was frequently approached with suggestions for the series, such a purchase was never repeated.
  • Much of this episode was filmed in Death Valley National Monument (now a National Park), particularly around Zabriskie Point.[1]
  • In addition to the usual opening and closing narration, this episode features a rare bit of narration from Serling in the middle of the show—after Corey kills Donlin, Serling narrates Corey's travels through the desert landscape. This was the last use of mid-show narration until season three's "I Sing The Body Electric".
  • The title of the episode comes from the opening line of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Arrow and the Song": "I shot an arrow into the air, it fell to Earth I knew not where." Serling also used this title for a prospective Twilight Zone pilot episode that was eventually shot, in modified form, as "The Gift".[2]
  • The plot idea of astronauts thinking they had crashed on an unknown planet, only to discover that in fact they had been on Earth all along, would be adapted by Rod Serling in his work on the initial screenplay of the 1968 film Planet of the Apes.
  • This is one of several episodes from season one to have its opening title sequence plastered over with the opening for season two. This was done during the summer of 1961 in order to give the re-running episodes of season one the updated look that the show had taken in the second season.
  • It appears that at least some of the electronics in the set were recycled from the movie Forbidden Planet (1956), if not in absolute physicality then in imitation. The large, white lighted circles with the 'pie slices' facing down appear in several scenes from Forbidden Planet as well as the previous episode "Third from the Sun".


  1. ^ a b Zicree, Marc Scott (1982). The Twilight Zone Companion (2nd ed.). Hollywood: Sillman-James Press. p. 98.
  2. ^ Zicree, Marc Scott (1982). The Twilight Zone Companion (2nd ed.). Hollywood: Sillman-James Press. p. 277.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]