The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
31 user 4 critic

The Changing of the Guard 

After being forced to retire, Professor Fowler contemplates suicide when he doesn't feel he has made a difference in the world. That night he has an experience that shows him that he is wrong.


Rod Serling, Rod Serling (created by)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Donald Pleasence ... Professor Ellis Fowler
Liam Sullivan ... Headmaster
Philippa Bevans Philippa Bevans ... Mrs. Landers - Housekeeper
Tom Lowell ... Artie Beechcroft
Russell Horton ... Bartlett
Buddy Joe Hooker ... Dickie Weiss (as Buddy Hart)
Robert Biheller ... Graham (as Bob Biheller)
Kevin O'Neal Kevin O'Neal ... Butler
Jimmy Baird Jimmy Baird ... Boy
Kevin Jones Kevin Jones ... Boy
Darryl Richard Darryl Richard ... Thompson
James Browning James Browning ... Rice
Pat Close Pat Close ... Hudson
Dennis Kerlee Dennis Kerlee ... Whiting


Professor Ellis Fowler has been teaching at the Rock Spring School for Boys for a great many years. In fact, he taught the grandfather of one of his current students. Just before Christmas however, he's told by the headmaster that his contract will not be renewed for the new year. Despondent, he returns home convinced that his life has been wasted and decides to end it all. Before he can do so however, his is visited by some very special students from the past who give him cause to reconsider. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis








Release Date:

1 June 1962 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Although set at Christmas, the show was aired in June. See more »


When Professor Fowler brushes the snow from the tombstone, you can hear a hollow sound, indicating that the tombstone is made of plastic. See more »


Professor Ellis Fowler: [looking through school yearbook] They all come and go like ghosts. Faces, names, smiles. The funny things they said or the sad things, or the poignant ones. I gave them nothing. I gave them nothing at all. Poetry that left their minds the minute they themselves left. Aged slogans that were out of date when I taught them. Quotations dear to me that were meaningless to them. I was a failure, Mrs. Landers. An abject, miserable failure. I walked from class to class, an old relic, teaching by rote ...
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It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
Lyrics by Edmund Hamilton Sears
Music by Richard Storrs Willis
Performed by Christmas carolers
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User Reviews

Simple but powerful
13 April 2016 | by emguySee all my reviews

At a certain level, this episode is so simplistic you could capture the entire plot, with the ending, in a single sentence. A lesser production would have delivered a treacly bit of fluff, padded out to fill the time slot. But Donald Pleasence turns the story into a powerful tale that puts a knot in my throat.

This one's not about the plot. It's about the character. It's about dedication to a purpose even though you may never find out if you were successful.

This episode is among my favorites. Maybe it's all the teachers in my family. Maybe it's the teachers I wish I could tell about their positive impact on me, or the teachers I've been able to tell.

(P.S. If this was written grammatically, it's thanks to Mrs. Prokopik in the 7th grade, and Mr. Carroll on the high school newspaper.)

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