A Perditious Poll: Who’s the Best Devil on Twilight Zone?

“Please allow me to introduce myself,” goes the opening line of “Sympathy for the Devil.” An introduction is especially important if you’re a Twilight Zone fan. After all, the fifth dimension is home to no fewer than four different people claiming to be the Prince of Lies.

TZ Devils

But which Beelzebub is best? That’s up to you. Not that it’ll be an easy choice. Each performance is a solid one, making this a diabolically difficult decision. In chronological order, we have …

Thomas Gomez (“Escape Clause” — November 6, 1959)

He may be going by the name “Cadwallader,” but when his newest sucker client says, “You’re the Devil,” Gomez’s character gives a wicked grin and replies, “At your service.” You want immortality? Just sign the dotted line, relinquish your soul … and enjoy.

Escape Clause6

Oh, repeated suicide attempts don’t thrill you for long? It’s not his fault that you have such a low threshold for boredom. Judging from his unholy laugh, though, it doesn’t sound like he cares.

***

Robin Hughes (“The Howling Man” — November 4, 1960)

There are no contracts, no deals, no flattery with this Devil, arguably the most recognized depiction of Lucifer in the whole TZ canon. He’s just an innocent man locked in a cell, held against his will by these crazy monks, right? He’s about pleas, not promises.

HowlingMan4

All he wants is for you to release him. And being a gullible fool nice guy, you listen and let him go. Oops. That escalated quickly. Uh, sorry, Brother Jerome?

***

Burgess Meredith (“Printer’s Devil” — February 28, 1963)

His roles as Henry Bemis in “Time Enough at Last” and Romney Wordsworth in “The Obsolete Man” are so famous that they overshadow this Season 4 gem. But from his twinkling eyes to his crooked cigar, “Mr. Smith” proves to be a uniquely unforgettable fiend.

printersdevil2

As the rescuer of a small-town paper that’s about to go under, Meredith plays the infamous soul-stealer with such devilish delight that it’s hard to root against him. He’s even clever enough to roll out the inevitable contract AFTER he’s got his hooks in you.

***

Julie Newmar (“Of Late I Think of Cliffordville” — April 11, 1963)

For many men, a Devil who looks like Catwoman could dispense with the formalities altogether. Never mind the patter — where do I sign? O_O So it’s to Mr. Feathersmith’s credit that he actually tries to forge an airtight deal with the erstwhile Angel of Light.

oflateithinkofcliffordville5

Alas, pride and greed are his undoing. Besides, attempts to out-lawyer Lucifer nearly always end badly. Now you have all eternity to ponder how you should have examined the fine print.

I know it’s a tough choice, but as voters, we’re frequently asked to pick between devils. So who’s it going to be?

UPDATE, Sept. 4: I don’t think anyone’s surprised to see Robin Hughes won this one, but it was great to watch the battle for second place see-saw back and forth between Meredith and Newmar. Thanks to everyone who voted!

***

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Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!

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About Paul

Hard-working, hard-playing fan of all pop culture, especially the Twilight Zone. Which led to a Twitter page. And then to a blog. And then to ... stay tuned. Yes, that's a picture of Rod Serling, not me. You can find the real me under the "Your Host" tab on my blog, along with biographical details that, while 100 percent accurate, sound kind of boastful and braggy. Sorry.

Posted on 08/28/2015, in Twilight Zone Polls and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Another fantastic idea for a poll, Paul! I voted for Ms. Newmar, although I was tempted to go with Mr. Meredith. (Hm, 50% of the Zone’s devils were also Batman baddies!)

  2. This is hard but I went with Burgess Meredith. I really like that episode. In fact, I really like season four.

    • Good choice, but then again, it’s hard to go wrong. And I agree — Season 4 is pretty underrated.

      • It is hard. Julie and Thomas are actually likable characters (compared to the main character). I’m not a big fan of Howling Man, but it was so well done, especially the transformation at the end. Burgess as the Devil seems like the Devil and the way he would operate.

  3. Hi Paul! What a unique post! Never stopped to think about how many devils were in the Twilight Zone episodes.

    They all gave fine performances, but I voted for Robin Hughes, the Errol Flynn of devils. He just has that look. A truly elegant Satan!

    Watching him glide down the hall swinging that cape over his shoulders gives me the creeps! That “transformation” was so well done.

    His performance scares me every time I watch it!

    • Hi, Jo Ann! Glad you enjoyed the post. You’re so right about Hughes. What a terrific performance. At first glance, it’s easy to get peeved at Mr. Ellington for letting him out, but let’s face it — the HM is one smooth talker (which is kind of the point). Thanks for voting! :)

  4. Gotta go with The Howling man, with Burgess Meredith a close 2nd. :-)

  5. just because the howling man is an iconic episode, doesn’t make him a good devil. i think he detracts from the episode with his over acting and weird accent. i voted for newmar! meredith is a close 2nd

    • Interesting! I never fail to marvel at how TZ can attract such diverse opinions. Adds to the fun, as far as I’m concerned. Thanks for stopping by and voting!

  6. Didn’t Sebastian Cabot play the Devil in the episode “A Nice Place To Visit?”

    • No, which is why I didn’t include him (even though I really like that episode). He played “Pip,” a “tour guide” (as he put it) of Hell.

  7. Dale M. Haskell

    I even got the impression that Newmar (though called Miss Devlin) was possibly an employee of the firm of Satan and not necessarily the Devil but who cares? It’s the Zone and it’s all fun!

  8. Victor De Leon

    Hughes, hands down. My favorite ep, as well! Great post and poll!

  9. robert balboni

    I may be the odd man out here but I really liked Thomas gomez portrayal of the devil. he had a ceartain wit and sly and shady type of persona that I felt the devil would try to use on us. liked the suttle humor in this episode also,great acting of all involved. rob

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