The Twilight Zone

Season 2 Episode 29

The Obsolete Man

Aired Unknown Jun 02, 1961 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
149 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

In a future state where religion and books have been banned, a librarian is judged obsolete and sentenced to death.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • A play for all time..

    this episode should have and possibly may have already been turned nto a script for any high school play. To teach today's kids. "To teach today's kids what?" You may ask.. - No. Just to teach today's kids.

    this should be a play in every drama club in every school. But that can be said of a great many TZ episodes. This one, though, is a real triumph in that realm. Sorry I'm rambling. Bye now.moreless
  • The state is just a collective of individuals with delusions of grandeur

    This episode is my favorite of all time because it emphasizes the real nature of the individual and his importance. The state is nothing compared to the individual. Every man feels important even as a part of the State. There is NO obsolete man.
  • Relevance is asymptotic as one ages

    I put the Obsolete Man in the same category as Soylent Green. As I get older, the message seems more relevant to my situation.
  • A clever title goes here!

    One of the best episodes of the show's second season. A little preachy, but, the performances by Burgess Meredith and Fritz Weaver, makes this a moot point. What I love is the fact that Romney Wordsworth (Meredith) wins in the end when the Chancellor (Weaver) gets his comeupance and considered obsolete. Kudos also to director Elliott Silverstein, who recounted that the episode's editor didn't want to go along with his vision of the final scene, and what ended up on the screen was a compromise.moreless
  • warmed-over Ray Bradbury

    A front-runner for the series' worst episode: strident and overdone, obvious at every turn. Like Bradbury at his most annoyingly preachy, only of course made even more overbearing by Serling's cantankerous outlook. And once again I've got somebody on TV telling me how wonderful books are. People actually liked this one?! lol

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • 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!

    • (Closing Narration)
      Narrator: The Chancellor - the late Chancellor - was only partly correct. He was obsolete. But so was the State, the entity he worshiped. Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of man, that state is obsolete. A case to be filed under 'M' for mankind in the Twilight Zone.

  • 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.