The Twilight Zone Episode 15: I Shot an Arrow into the Air

Technical Specs

Director: Stuart Rosenberg

Writer: Rod Serling

Cast: Dewey Martin, Edward Binns, Ted Otis, Harry Bartell, and Leslie Barrett

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 1/15/1960

Production Code: 173-3626



After crash landing, astronauts Donlin (Edward Binns), Pierson (Ted Otis), and Corey (Dewey Martin) believe themselves to be stranded on a desolate asteroid. With resources dwindling and the-twilight-zone-i-shot-an-arrow-into-the-airno means of contacting mission control, Corey is forced to choose between dying with dignity and surrendering his principles in order to survive.

An insightful Twilight Zone offering, “I Shot an Arrow into the Air” sheds light upon the raw brutality of which humans are capable when threatened with annihilation. Its illogical premise notwithstanding, this episode benefits from a creative twist ending similar to another one of Rod Serling’s remarkable contributions to the science fiction genre.



By taking place in a desert, “I Shot an Arrow into the Air” allows the audience to empathize with each main character and his sense of isolation. With nothing to accompany the protagoniststhe-twilight-zone-i-shot-an-arrow-into-the-air save for dust, mountains, and other dreary surroundings for miles on end, one can easily understand why a person in this situation would become so quickly unhinged.

Also noteworthy is Edward Binns’ portrayal of Col. Bob Donlin, who, as an archetypal military leader, remains level-headed even when faced with the hopeless nature of his circumstances. Donlin’s unwillingness to compromise provides the group with a reason to maintain their moral grounding despite the certain death that awaits them; however, the colonel’s foolish manner of dealing with Corey may cast doubt on the competency of this otherwise commendable officer.



Regardless of its laudable intentions, this episode is marred by one substantial flaw in characterization: Corey is intended to serve as an example of how human instincts can transform the-twilight-zone-i-shot-an-arrow-into-the-aireven the most noble of men into cruel savages, yet no such transition ever takes place. Instead, Corey immediately reveals the selfish, callous attributes that one would expect of an uncivilized fiend, thus indicating that murder, theft, and deceit were always natural to him. In addition to undermining Serling’s above thesis, the inherent flaws in Corey’s personality also raise questions as to how someone with such an incorrigible disposition could have been chosen for a spaceflight mission in the first place.



the-twilight-zone-i-shot-an-arrow-into-the-airThough hampered by improper character development, “I Shot an Arrow into the Air” should nonetheless be commended for challenging the notion that human beings would remain altruistic and strong-willed during a life-or-death crisis. While certain exceptional individuals might retain the unfaltering dedication to selfless pursuits exemplified by Donlin, the sad truth of the matter is that most people would, in all likelihood, behave in a similar fashion as Corey if food and water were removed from their lives.


Concluding Comments

“I Shot an Arrow into the Air” requires its viewers to confront a rather uncomfortable fact concerning the human condition. Also worth praising is Serling’s conclusion, which will no doubt remind perceptive viewers of more iconic twist ending involving the Statue of Liberty and a society governed by intelligent simians.


Overall Quality: 8/10


If you enjoyed this post, please click the follow button or enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.

Please note: Comments that are malicious, offensive, or excessively profane will be removed. Off-topic messages belong in the About section.

2 thoughts on “The Twilight Zone Episode 15: I Shot an Arrow into the Air

  1. This is one of the episodes that should work better than it does. You are right, one of the reasons it does not is that it is hard to belief these are real astronauts; they seem incompetent. Of course they’re on Earth! (or was it not so obvious at the time?)

    • I do wonder how obvious the twist ending was to early 1960s audiences. Remember that Planet of the Apes hadn’t been released yet, so maybe the finale seemed a bit more shocking at the time.

Comments are closed.