As perhaps the most well-known episode of the series, “To Serve Man” seems to stick in the minds of Twilight Zone viewers like nothing else. Witty, freaky, and a little funny (Okay, very funny), “To Serve Man” feels like the quintessential Twilight Zone episode, and maybe that’s why we love it so much in the first place.
While Rod Serling wrote the episode, it was based on a story by Damon Knight, originally released in 1950. Wright was a writer who specialized in science fiction, and in addition to several short stories, he also penned many novels, including Masters of Evolution and The Man in the Tree. According to The New York Times, of his works, Knight was especially proud of “To Serve Man” He was so proud, in fact, that he actually sent the story to others as a Christmas gift.
The article stated, “Family members say Knight was especially proud of ‘To Serve Man.’ Last Christmas, he had the original story printed on linen paper, encased in a plastic spine, and gave signed and numbered copies to 17 family members.
In the second edition of The Twilight Zone Companion, written by Marc Scott Zicree, Knight is quoted as saying, “I thought the adaptation was kind of neat — it made me famous in Milford, Pennsylvania; suddenly everybody knew who I was.” There were some variations between Knight and Serling’s story, including the depiction of the aliens featured in the story, the Kanamits.
Originally, Knight depicted the Kanamits as closer to piglike people. Knight discussed the changes and said, “I didn’t mind the aliens being acromegalic giants, because I knew they couldn’t film my pig-people without making it look like a Disney film. The only thing that bugged me was Serling’s treating the alien language as if it were just another kind of code.”