The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
33 user 6 critic

Escape Clause 

A hypochondriac man sells his soul to the devil, exchanging it for several thousand years of immortality.


Mitchell Leisen


Rod Serling




Episode complete credited cast:
Rod Serling ... Narrator (voice)
David Wayne ... Walter Bedeker
Thomas Gomez ... Cadwallader
Virginia Christine ... Ethel Bedeker
Raymond Bailey ... Doctor
Wendell Holmes Wendell Holmes ... Cooper
Dick Wilson ... Jack
Joe Flynn ... Steve
Nesdon Booth Nesdon Booth ... Guard (as Nesden Booth)


Hypochondriac Walter Bedeker has once again had his doctor come to his bedside but he can find absolutely nothing wrong with him. The doctor tells him his aches and pains are psychosomatic but he refuses to accept it. Later that night, a Mr. Cadwallader suddenly appears in his room and has a proposition for him: in return for his soul, he will give him immortality. He even has an escape clause in that if he ever gets tired of living, Cadwallader will provide him with a hasty demise. He accepts the deal and soon collects 14 insurance claims over a variety of accidents. He finds it all very boring however but his quest for a thrill brings results with an unexpected outcome. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The title refers to a legal term, condition or clause in a contract that allows a party to that contract to avoid having to perform the contract. The validity of the clause is usually limited by a time-frame (i.e 30 days or 72 hours) or subject to the the satisfaction of the customer for delivered goods or services. See more »


When Mr. Cadwallader first appears, Walter Bedeker looks to the screen's left and he is laying on the left side of the bed from the camera's point of view, with Cadwallder to the left of the bed. In the next shot, Walter is on the right side of the bed and Mr. Cadwallader is standing on the right side of the bed. See more »


Rod Serling - Narrator: [Closing Narration] There's a saying, 'Every man is put on Earth condemned to die, time and method of execution unknown.' Perhaps, this is as it should be. Case in point: Walter Bedeker, lately deceased, a little man with such a yen to live. Beaten by the Devil, by his own boredom - and by the scheme of things in this, The Twilight Zone.
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Featured in Atop the Fourth Wall: Twilight Zone #9 (2011) See more »


Kitten and the Bird
Music by John Gart
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User Reviews

A slick, entertaining immortality tale
20 November 2010 | by Shattered_WakeSee all my reviews

You're about to meet a hypochondriac. Witness Mr. Walter Bedeker (David Wayne), age forty-four, afraid of the following: death, disease, other people, germs, draft, and everything else. He has one interest in life, and that's Walter Bedeker. One preoccupation: the life and well-being of Walter Bedeker. One abiding concern about society: that if Walter Bedeker should die, how will it survive without him?

'Escape Clause' is, for some strange reason, one of the least respected episodes of the early 'Twilight Zone' episodes. This is a baffling notion seeing how entertaining, disturbing, and well written it is. The episode, which is quite definitely one of the darkest of the series, features a fantastic performance by David Wayne ('House Calls') as Walter Beddeker, the self-absorbed hypochondriac who can't get through a day without his doctor by his side treating his nonexistent illnesses. His world is changed when Cadwaller (Thomas Gomez) appears in his room offering the ultimate gift: Immortality. The only stipulation? Beddeker must forfeit his soul to an eternity in Hell.

Beyond the fine performance David Wayne and the solid direction by Mitchell Leisen, Rod Serling's telescript is extremely interesting. Perhaps the only real issue comes from something beyond the control of the crew. Due to the short runtime and limited resources, it is a bit disappointing not to have a larger scope of the story or more focus on the deaths & legal proceedings. Perhaps as a feature-length film, the story would have been able to fully show the great story and experiment more with the pacing. However, as a single television episode, it is still very entertaining, very thought-provoking, and very well done.


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Release Date:

6 November 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Escape Clause See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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