In a rather insightful video essay, filmmaker Michael Tucker of Lessons from the Screenplay took a deep dive into the sublime Black Mirror episode “USS Callister“. In doing so, Tucker specifically noted how the seeming protagonist suddenly became the antagonist and how this particular subject relates to Episode 73 of The Twilight Zone titled “It’s a Good Life“, which aired November 3, 1961. The likeness is most apparent in the characters of Robert Daly (“USS Callister”) and six year old Anthony Fremont (“It’s a Good Life”).
Watching the episode it’s very clear how both the premise and the details of ‘It’s a Good Life’ influenced ‘USS Callister’. Anthony is a powerful tyrant who has created a self-contained universe where he can subject people to his every whim. Anthony silences those who displease him …as does Daly. …out of fear the people of the town are extremely nice to Anthony …as are those trapped in Daly’s world.