Dead Run (The Twilight Zone)

Dead Run (The Twilight Zone)
"Dead Run"
The Twilight Zone episode
Dead Run.jpg
Scene from Dead Run
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 19b
Directed by Paul Tucker
Written by Greg Bear
Alan Brennert
Original air date February 21, 1986
Guest stars

Steve Railsback : Johnny Davis
Barry Corbin : Pete
John de Lancie : The Dispatcher
Brent Spiner : Draft Dodger

Episode chronology
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"The Leprechaun-Artist"
Next →
"Profile in Silver"
List of The Twilight Zone episodes

"Dead Run" is the second segment of the nineteenth episode from the first season (1985-1986) of the television series The New Twilight Zone.



Johnny Davis is a truck driver, unemployed due to his many accidents. In a roadside diner, Johnny asks Pete - a friend of his father's - for help finding a job. Pete is reluctant, saying that with the kind of work he's in, you have to be ready for anything. Johnny agrees and Pete takes him on his next run. The run turns out to be delivering souls to Hell via semi-truck. After a blow-up at a truck stop, Johnny learns of disturbances in Hell with the souls of the newly dead, and it's making the truckers nervous.

As the drivers enter Hell to drop off their cargo, Pete and Johnny witness a seeming anarchy, with souls running around loose. Some of the dead see Johnny and try to plead with him to get them out. During the melee, one of the souls comes to Johnny's aid and tells him about the fact that people are being sent to Hell that don't deserve to be. He learns that some kind of odd bureaucracy has taken over the job of deciding who goes to Hell (the 'low road') or Heaven (the 'high road'). Pete and one of the workers find Johnny, but the worker wants him to speak to management. A senior executive discusses with Johnny what he heard and explains how it all works. It turns out that the standards currently being used to determine who is sent to Hell are excessively conservative and biased - people are being damned for minor offenses. The executive reasons that they're simply using time honored Biblical standards, but Johnny still feels like it's unfair; back on the job, he decides to interview the dead that ride with him and thus choose which of the dead should go to Hell and which he should free to find a way to Heaven.

When a soul he helps asks why he is doing this, Johnny replies that he remembered a story that between the Crucifixion and Resurrection, Jesus went down to Hell to give the souls there another chance. So maybe it's just keeping up an old tradition...

Closing narration

Centuries ago, Hell was reached by chalk-white horses pulling shuttered coaches; by Spanish galleons borne on black sails through uncharted seas. Legend has it Leonardo da Vinci was once commissioned to build a flying machine to carry souls to Hell, but it never returned from its maiden flight. But along this particular road to Hell lies redemption for the damned as well as for drivers who have found work... in The Twilight Zone.


This episode was stretched into a half-hour run time for syndication, as recently shown on the Chiller TV network.


This episode is based on the short story "Dead Run" by Greg Bear, first published in Omni (April, 1985).

John de Lancie and Brent Spiner, both of whom will go on to appear in Star Trek: The Next Generation, appear in this episode, but do not share a scene.


  • Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)

External links

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