Through a crazy set of random clicks–which is how the internet works, really–I discovered a new piece of buggy pop culture: The Zanti Misfits.  It’s an episode from the first season of The Outer Limits (1963), and it starts with this voice over:

“Throughout history, compassionate minds have pondered the dark and disturbing question: what is society to do with those members who are a threat to society, those malcontents and misfits whose behavior undermines and destroys the foundations of civilization? Different ages have found different answers. Misfits have been burned, branded and banished. Today, on this planet Earth, the criminal is incarcerated in humane institutions…..or he is executed. Other planets use other methods. This is the story of how the perfectionist rulers of the planet Zanti attempted to solve the problem of the Zanti misfits.”

So, basically, they export their criminals on a prison ship to Earth. They demand that humans accept their criminals, or retaliation will be swift and violent.  “Total destruction to anyone who invades our privacy.”

And the “misfits” are…a really freaky insect/human hybrid.  And I mean FREAKY.  Also, curiously, many of them seem to have hipster soul patches and mutton chop sideburns.

We don’t get a look at them until about 23 minutes into the episode, when a bank robber (Bruce Dern!) blunders into the top secret area of the Zanti landing.   He does not come to a good end. In fact, in a really wonderful touch, the human criminal ends up dead on his back with legs curled up like a roach.

The firefight at the end (starts around minute 43) is a truly wonderful mess; it… just has to be seen to be believed.

The ending has a wonderful twist, which I will leave out here; it’s a bit of a morality play on crime and punishment.

You can read a detailed excerpt about this episode from the Outer Limits Companion here; scroll to the bottom for scans of the pages.

I’m not sure how I didn’t know about this; so I thought I would share!

Watch it on Hulu

Watch it on YouTube

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. So *that’s* what that was! Last year, I saw about 15 minutes of this on a hotel TV, but missed both the beginning and end. I thought it was a whole movie, and didn’t realize it was an Outer Limits episode.

  2. QuestionAuthority May 25, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I remember that episode… It was kind of chilling as only the old Outer Limits could be.
    Of course, “Zanti Misfits” would be a great name for a rock band…

  3. So I’m thinking, “Those would make pretty cool (if disturbing) toys. I wonder if any were ever made?”

    And then I found this:

    Well. What do you know. I bet they’re pretty expensive, but still . . .

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