What You Need (The Twilight Zone)

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"What You Need"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 12
Directed byAlvin Ganzer
Teleplay byRod Serling
Based on"What You Need"
by Lewis Padgett
Featured musicOriginal score by Nathan Van Cleave
Production code173-3622
Original air dateDecember 25, 1959
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"And When the Sky Was Opened"
Next →
"The Four of Us Are Dying"
The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) (season 1)
List of The Twilight Zone episodes

"What You Need" is episode 12 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It is based on the short story of the same name by Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore).

Opening narration[edit]


Pedott, a peddler, has the curious ability to give people exactly what they need before they need it, he enters a coffee shop where he first gives a woman a vial of cleaner. Then he gives a down-on-his-luck ex-baseball player a bus ticket to Scranton, Pennsylvania. Moments later, the ball player receives a phone call at the cafe with a job offer in Scranton; the ball player then notices a spot on his jacket, and the woman uses the vial of cleaner which she was given a short time before. Fred Renard, a frustrated ' loser', asks Pedott to give him what he needs, and the peddler gives him a pair of scissors, which saves Renard's life when his scarf later gets caught in an elevator's doors. Renard shows up at Pedott's apartment, asking for another thing he "needs", and the peddler produces a leaky fountain pen that predicts a winning racehorse when a drop of ink lands on a newspaper racing column.

Renard continues menacing Pedott for more and then helps himself to a pair of new shoes from Pedott's peddler case; when a car suddenly heads toward Renard he tries to run, but the new leather soles are so slippery he cannot escape on the wet pavement. He is struck and killed; the shoes, Pedott explains to Renard's corpse, were what Pedott needed, because he foresaw that Renard would try to kill him. At the end of the episode the peddler gives a couple a comb, which they use to groom themselves just before they are photographed as witnesses for a newspaper story covering the "hit and run" accident that killed Fred Renard.

Closing narration[edit]

Production information[edit]

The original story featured a machine that could foretell an individual's probable future. In the story, the man owns a shop where he has such a machine and then gives people what they need to provide the best possible outcomes; also, the Renard character is killed not by a car but by falling off a subway platform while a train is coming into the station; this version of the story aired on a 1952 episode of the anthology series Tales of Tomorrow, changing the death of the Renard character from a fall to being hit by a car. For his version, Serling replaced the science-fiction element with a street peddler who could magically perform the same function.

The final shot before the first commercial (while Serling is concluding his narration) is actually played backwards; looking carefully, one can see smoke returning to Renard's cigarette.

During the scene in Mr. Renard's hotel room, a bellhop brings him a newspaper. Renard then opens it and spreads it out on the floor; the movement is quick, but the front page of the newspaper is visible, indicating that it is the same front page used in another Twilight Zone episode, "Time Enough at Last". The headline reads "H-Bomb Capable of Total Destruction". Once Renard opens the paper and looks at the racing page, several in-jokes are apparent in the names of the listed jockeys, which include "Serling", "Clemens" (referencing director of photography George Clemens), "Houghton" (referencing producer Buck Houghton), "Butler" (referencing set decorator Rudy Butler), and "Denault" (referencing assistant director Edward Denault).


  • Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)
  • DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0

External links[edit]