King Nine Will Not Return

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{service, military, aircraft}
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Robert Cummings: Captain James Embry
Paul Lambert: Doctor
Gene Lyons: Psychiatrist
Jenna McMahon: Nurse
Seymour Green: British officer

"King Nine Will Not Return" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.



The World War II bomber King Nine has crashed in the desert. Captain James Embry finds himself stranded, alone except for the wreckage and the mystery of what happened to his crew, all of whom have disappeared. The movement of the plane in the wind and his visions of the missing men serve to heighten Embry's disorientation.

Embry finds the grave of one of his crewmen and sees, in the sky, Navy F9F Cougar jets, impossible for the time. He collapses in the sand, and we discover that he is actually suffering hallucinations from a hospital bed, 17 years after the crash.

Confident that Embry will recover, a doctor remarks to a nurse that Embry's suffering has been triggered by a newspaper headline. The paper has reported the desert discovery of the long-lost King Nine, which had not returned to base from a bombing mission during the war. Having come down with a fever just before he was to board the ill-fated flight, Embry had been replaced on the mission by another captain. Embry's sight of the headline has triggered survivor guilt, in which, we are to understand, he has imagined himself at the crash site.

The nurse, fetching Embry's shoes, discovers that they are mysteriously filled with sand.

Inspiration and production

The episode was based on the discovery of the B-24 Liberator bomber Lady Be Good and her crew which crashed in the Sahara desert in mysterious circumstances.

The scary and suspenseful score by Fred Steiner was used in other episodes.

This was the first episode to feature the familiar Marius Constant Twilight Zone theme and the first to feature an on-camera Rod Serling narration at the beginning of the episode.

The aircraft used was a B-25C-10NA 42-32354 which still exists in storage with Aero Trader, Borrego Springs, CA.


  • Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)
  • DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0

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