‘The Twilight Zones’: Rod Serling’s Signature Phrase Was Only Uttered in 3 Episodes but Was Later Borrowed by a Kid’s Show

The Twilight Zone aired its first episode in 1959. Thirty years later, two writers were shopping an idea for a horror series geared toward kids. The show, which wasn’t met with a warm reception initially, eventually got made. In 1992, United States audiences tuned in to watch Are You Afraid of the Dark?. Aside from genre, the two shows don’t seem to have much in common, but Are You Afraid of the Dark? seemingly borrowed a catchphrase from The Twilight Zone. The phrase “submitted for your approval” is deeply associated with The Twilight Zone, but it actually didn’t appear in most episodes.

Rod Serling only uttered his famous words three times

While “submitted for your approval” became synonymous with The Twilight Zone, the show’s narrator, Rod Serling, only ever uttered the phrase in three episodes of the show. According to IMDb, the words weren’t even spoken until later seasons of the series. The first instance of Serling telling audiences that the story was “submitted for your approval” came in 1962. The 1962 episode “The Cavender is Coming” was the 101st episode of the show.

Creator of 'The Twilight Zone' Rod Serling
Rod Serling | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Serling would utter the phrase just twice more before the show was canceled. If you think about it, if only three episodes contained the words, that means less than 2% of the show’s 156 episodes included it. Somehow, still, it has become ingrained in pop culture.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? borrowed the phrase

While Serling used the phrase sparingly during his time on The Twilight Zone, the creators of Are You Afraid of the Dark? seemingly used the term as inspiration for their own opener. During each episode, a member of the Midnight Society would begin their story by saying, “..submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society…”

Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a series geared toward tweens and young teens who enjoyed being scared. Initially, the idea was a tough sell, with Nickelodeon executives concerned that parents wouldn’t care for the concept. Nonetheless, the series premiered in 1990 in Canada as a Halloween special. Two years later, it was picked up as an official series in the United States.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? borrowed more than a catchphrase from The Twilight Zone 

While Are You Afraid of the Dark? certainly borrowed its catchphrase from The Twilight Zone, Den of Geek argues that the series borrowed more from the series than a slogan. Sure, Are You Afraid of the Dark? was crafted for a young adult audience, but it followed a similar pattern.

The opening of 'The Twilight Zone'
The opening of ‘The Twilight Zone’ | CBS via Getty Images

D.J. McHale, a co-creator of the series, agrees. McHale and co-creator Ned Kandel told Den of Geek that they used The Twilight Zone’s template to influence their show. Like The Twilight Zone, the children’s show aimed to share a single short story during a 30-minute episode. They also enjoyed The Twilight Zone’s commitment to telling stories from several different genres. They did the same with their show.