The Twilight Zone

The Obsolete Man

Season 2, Ep 29, Aired 6/2/61
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  • Episode Description
  • In a future state where religion and books have been banned, a librarian is judged obsolete and sentenced to death.

  • Cast & Crew
  • Rod Serling


  • Elliot Silverstein

  • Buck Houghton

  • George T. Clemens

  • Ralph W. Nelson

  • Fan Reviews (12)
  • A play for all time..

    By WildstarV, Mar 13, 2014

  • The state is just a collective of individuals with delusions of grandeur

    By tominfanger, Jan 02, 2013

  • Relevance is asymptotic as one ages

    By RevStephenKing, Dec 11, 2012

  • A clever title goes here!

    By spectreagent, Dec 10, 2012

  • warmed-over Ray Bradbury

    By OmarCayenne, Oct 08, 2011

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (6)

    • (Opening Narration) Narrator: You walk into this room at your own risk, because it leads to the future, not a future that will be but one that might be. This is not a new world, it is simply an extension of what began in the old one. It has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. It has refinements, technological advances, and a more sophisticated approach to the destruction of human freedom. But like every one of the superstates that preceded it, it has one iron rule: logic is an enemy and truth is a menace. This is Mr. Romney Wordsworth, in his last forty-eight hours on Earth. He's a citizen of the State but will soon have to be eliminated, because he is built out of flesh and because he has a mind. Mr. Romney Wordsworth, who will draw his last breaths in the Twilight Zone.

    • Wordsworth: There is a God! Chancellor: You are in error, Mr. Wordsworth. There is no God! The State has proven that there is no God! Wordsworth: You cannot erase God with an edict! Chancellor: You are obsolete, Mr. Wordsworth. Wordsworth: A lie! No man is obsolete. Chancellor: You have no function, Mr. Wordsworth. You're an anachronism, like a ghost from another time. Wordsworth: I am nothing more than a reminder to you that you cannot destroy truth by burning pages. Chancellor: You're a bug, Mr. Wordsworth! A crawling insect. An ugly, misinformed little creature who has no purpose here, no meaning. Wordsworth: I am a human being! Chancellor: You're a librarian, Mr. Wordsworth! You're a dealer in books and two cent fines and pamphlets and closed stacks and the musty insides of a language factory that spews out meaningless words on an assembly line. Words, Mr. Wordsworth, that have no substance and no dimension, like air, like the wind, like a vacuum that you make-believe has an existence by scribbling index numbers on little cards. Wordsworth: I don't care. I tell you I don't care. I'm a human being. I exist! And if I speak one thought aloud, that thought lives! Even after I'm shoveled into my grave.

    • Chancellor: It's not unusual that we televise executions. It has an... educative effect on the citizens. Woodsworth: I have no doubt.

    • (Just seconds before the end) Chancellor: (Resolve broken; frantic) In the name of God let me out! Wordsworth: Yes, Chancellor, in the name of God I will let you out.

    • Subaltern: Stand where you are. No further. You have been removed from office. The field investigators have declared you obsolete. Chancellor: Obsolete? Subaltern: You have disgraced the State. You have proven yourself a coward. You have, therefore, no function. You are obsolete!

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    Notes (1)

    • The second of Fritz Weaver's two appearances on the original Twilight Zone. He would later go on to appear in the 1985 Twilight Zone episode "The Star," one of the few actors in the original series to do so.

  • Add a Comment
    In reply to :
    • tea62 Feb 15, 2014

      My favorite TZ episode, I find it relevant because it highlights the horrors and abuses of totalitarianism. The struggle between free societies (i.e., constitutional, representative, small governments) and total state control has existed since the dawn of civilization. We must decide whether to take the path of least resistance and submit to the state, or fight for liberty.