"Shadow Play" is the first segment of the twenty-third episode of the first season (1985–86) of the American television series The Twilight Zone, and is a remake of the original series episode of the same name. The episode first aired April 4, 1986.
“Adam Grant, a nondescript man found guilty of murder and sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead. Like most other criminals caught in the wheels of justice he's scared, right down to the marrow of his bones. But it isn't prison that scares him, the long, silent nights of waiting, the slow walk to the hanging room, or even death itself. It's something else that holds Adam Grant in the hot, sweaty grip of fear, something worse than any punishment this world has to offer, something found only in the Twilight Zone."
A man named Adam Grant is being judged for the crime of murder in the first degree and he is found guilty. After being told that he will be hanged, Grant just sputters and laughs in disbelief. He then walks to the judge and tells him that all this doesn't matter because he is only dreaming it. All of what is happening is only a dream of his. After being returned to his cell, Grant continues telling his dream theory. Of course, his fellow death rowers don't believe what he's saying, even after detailed accounts of how he is executed every night in his dream and yet he still comes back. While Grant is in his cell, the prosecutor, Mr. Ritchie, is at home, pondering the oddity of Grant and his case. His wife attempts to take his mind off it, but then Grant's attorney, Erin Jacobs, shows up. She tries to put into words that Grant may be telling the truth despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. She claims the odd circumstances have her frantic: she herself feels that she is continually being watched and that she has this feeling that being so successful is too good to be true, like in a dream. Also, Jacobs asks why there was no press in or around the court, despite this being a big murder trial. Ritchie then looks very puzzled. Ritchie shows up at Grant's cell. He claims that Grant is just using this crazy dream theory to try to fool everyone, but he's not fooled, even though Grant can lip-sync everything Ritchie says to him. Grant tries to explain how this has to be a dream. If he is to be executed today, which is the right day for executions—Mondays at 12:01 am—how is it that he was sentenced on a Sunday. What court does business on Sundays? Grant then brings up Ritchie's wife, Carol, who is the only person who never changes—because, in reality, she is Grant's sister. Grant even quotes what Carol said earlier to Ritchie that evening. Ritchie panics and leaves. Back at Ritchie's house, Jacobs asks Carol how long she's been married to Ritchie, but neither he nor his wife can remember. Then the execution begins: a priest visits Grant in his cell. Grant claims that the priest is his real father, who died years ago. Meanwhile, Ritchie frantically tries to get a stay of execution. Just as he thinks the governor is calling, the switch is thrown and Grant drops. But then there is no body, and everyone in the Ritchie house watches everything disappear...as they themselves do. Suddenly, the dark courtroom comes alight with Adam Grant being sentenced for the crime of murder in the first degree...again...only the other characters are all different (for instance, Jacobs is now the judge, Grant's father is the jury foreman, and fellow inmate Jimmy is Grant's defense attorney). It's implied that Grant is doomed to repeat the same nightmare forever with the same people always changing parts.
“We know that a dream can be real, but what if reality is only a dream? We exist, of course, but how? In what way? As we believe, as flesh and blood human beings, or are we simply playing parts in someone else's feverish, complicated nightmare? Think about it and then ask yourself, "Do you live here in this country? In this world? Or do you live instead...in the Twilight Zone?"
In the original series' version, the scenario is a dream that Adam has (and wakes up from) every night. However in the remake, Adam never wakes up, and must relive the nightmare over and over.