“Where is Everybody?” is the first episode of what became the classic Twilight Zone series. The original airdate was October 2nd, 1959.
At first glance, 'Where is Everybody?" looks like it would be the setting for a fairly straightforward trope in science fiction. A man is left alone in a town. The stoves are hot but the people are gone. Other than the shock, it could be a scene right out of Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend." You are expecting to find out about the wherewithal of why everyone disappeared. Nuclear bomb? Alien invasion? Even in the 1950s these were fairly standard fare for science fiction. However, as anyone could tell you, The Twilight Zone is not what you would refer to as standard science fiction.
Meet astronaut Mike Ferris, Ferris is plated by actor Earl Hollman. Hollman would be immediately recognizable to science fiction audiences as he was only three years removed from the classic Forbidden Planet.
How could all of this not possibly simply be what it seems? Because, when you go into the Twilight Zone, nothing is as it seems.
It turns out that Ferris is not in a town at all. The town has been created entirely in Ferris' mind. It is of note here that Ferris. It might be of note here that the name Ferris is actually derived from the name Fergus. Fergus is on old world with Gaelic origins that means ',man strength.' Very little about Twilight Zone ever seems to be a coincidence. Therefore, it may imply that Ferris indeed has man strength but not mental strength. It is also possible that Ferris is meant to be derivative of Fenris which is a classic name for a wolf. The implication could be that Ferris is a 'lone wolf.'
In the end, it is revealed that Ferris, an astronaut, is actually in a sensory deprivation tank. His mind had created the town as a way to deal with his lonliness. The test is to see whether a man could survive the rigors and lonliness on a trip to the moon. Ferris is freed as soon as he presses a button and brought back to the 'real world.' Keep in mind the date in which this episode originally aired was October 2nd 1959. That is an important date. You have to consider a couple of facts here both to do with real science as well as science fiction.
Man did not actually land on the Moon until July 20, 1969. This was nearly a full decade after the Twilight Zone's "Where is Everybody?' episode. Kennedy's speech promising a man on the moon by the end of the decade? That was on May 25th, 1961. Kennedy had not even been elected President yet. To say that the Twilight Zone was ahead of its time in anticipating this would be a little bit of an understatement.
The Matrix would have a similar idea of people in sensory deprivation chambers living in worlds of their own directed by computers. Of course, the release date for The Matrix was March 31st 1999. For those of you keeping track at home, that is nearly a full forty years after the initial episode of the Twilight Zone.