The Origin of Species (The Outer Limits)

The Origin of Species (The Outer Limits)
"Origin of Species"
The Outer Limits episode
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 23
Directed by Brad Turner
Written by Naren Shankar
Production code 85
Original air date November 14, 1998
Guest stars

Ron Rifkin, Ryan Reynolds, Kathleen Duborg, William deVry, Silvio Pollio, Terri-Lynn Ibisoglu, Clare Lapinskie, Kirby Morrow, Tara Spencer-Nairn

Episode chronology
← Previous
"Balance of Nature"
Next →
"Phobos Rising"
List of The Outer Limits episodes

"The Origin of Species" is an episode of The Outer Limits television show. It was first broadcast on November 14, 1998 during the fourth season, and is a sequel to a previous episode "Double Helix".


Opening narration

Throughout the ages humans have looked to the heavens and wondered, ‘Where did we come from, and where are we going?’ But will we find those answers in the stars, or in ourselves?


After lifting off into space, the rocket is seen heading through the cosmos. It's a very shaky ride inside a strange-looking ship. The students, and Doctor, are all secure against a sort of upright wall. The ride stabilizes after they exit the atmosphere.

Soon after some questioning from the students, the Doctor places his hand on a symbol, but he and his son are absorbed into the ship. The confused students search for any trace of them after their disappearance. They try to remain calm and rational, but fear that the ship might attack the rest of them. They attempt to stay together, and talk among themselves, but decide to try to wait until the ship reaches its destination.

Suddenly, the ship rocks violently and it seems they're breaking apart, but actually the ship is reshaping into another form: a more aerodynamic craft. They are amazed at the changes, and are afraid of the possibilities, but decide to put their fears aside and split up to map out the ship to search for anything useful or possibly more information about the ship itself.

The girlfriend, who stayed behind in the central room, is looking around. She reads through the Doctor's report. Meanwhile, one of the pairs is inspecting a corridor. The girl asks what the guy thinks the ship is made of, to which he responds some sort of metallic crystal. Comments are made that the ship feels more like a 'living thing'. Another group find a symbol that looks like the one that had been on the Doctor's hand.

Back in the central room, the girlfriend is still reading the report. It reveals that the doctor had a genetic disease, which he might have passed on to his son. On the last page is a diagram of the symbol, and a note about a dinner date. As she closes the book, she hears a voice coming from the machine into which the Doctor and his son had apparently been absorbed. Curious, she places her hand close to the machine and is zapped. It is then that a sort of holographic image of the doctor and son (they alternate), trying to tell her to 'listen and prepare', appears then disappears.

Another group disappears into a moving wall in the corridor, and strange noises are heard. When the wall they disappeared in moves back, they are gone. The other group returns, to find the girlfriend alone in the center room. She gives one of the guys the report, and tells him to look through it.

They theorize that the ship might not have intentionally attacked the doctor, but that his disease (which would have been passed on to his son genetically) could have interfered with their ability to interface with the ship, which led to their disappearance.

The ship lands on Earth, but an Earth of the future, without humans. Investigating, they learn that the human race apparently began to experiment with genetically engineering humans with new abilities (such as wings) at some point after they left, which unleashed an illness that wiped them out.

The humans theorize that the aliens might have been a race that originated on Earth, and wiped themselves out in a similar manner. Foreseeing the possibility that the next sentient species to arise could suffer the same fate, they built the ship to save a sample of that race before it wiped itself out, and protect it until it could repopulate the Earth. The ship extracted genetic material from the others during the journey and created babies (modifying their genetics to avoid the dangers of inbreeding), creating a sufficient number of humans with enough genetic variation to repopulate the Earth.

Closing narration

It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Will we be wise enough to learn?


External links

Season 4 of The Outer Limits (1995-2002)

Criminal NatureThe HuntHearts and MindsIn Another LifeIn The ZoneRelativity TheoryJoshRite of PassageGlyphicIdentity CrisisThe VaccineFear ItselfThe JoiningTo Tell the Truth • Mary 25 • Final ExamLithiaMonsterSarcophagusNightmarePromised LandBalance of NatureOrigin of Species • Phobos Rising • Black Box • In Our Own Image

List of The Outer Limits episodes: Original Series (1963-1965) • The New Series (1995-2002)

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