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The Twilight Zone: The Obsolete Man

A librarian is scheduled for elimination after being deemed obsolete in the eyes of a futuristic society.

Episode Info

Episode number: 2x29
Production Number: 173-3661
Airdate: Friday June 02nd, 1961


Guest Stars
Burgess MeredithBurgess Meredith
As Romney Wordsworth

Co-Guest Stars
Fritz WeaverFritz Weaver
As Chancellor
Josip ElicJosip Elic
As Subaltern
Harry FleerHarry Fleer
As Guard
Barry BrooksBarry Brooks
As First Man
Harold InnocentHarold Innocent
As Second Man
Jane RomeynJane Romeyn
As Woman
Main Cast
Rod SerlingRod Serling
As Narrator/Host


Romney Wordsworth, a librarian in a future society, is called by the State to a tribunal which has determined to declare him “obsolete.” Wordsworth is proud to proclaim himself a librarian. The Chancellor notes that since the State has eliminated books, there is no longer any need for a librarian. Wordsworth insists that his life has value despite the State’s proclamation but the Chancellor shouts him down and then the tribunal offers sentence: guilty...

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Episode Notes
The second of Fritz Weaver's two appearances on the original Twilight Zone. His first was in "Third From the Sun." He would later go on to appear in the 1985 Twilight Zone episode "The Star."

Burgess Meredith also appeared in "Time Enough at Last," "Mr. Dingle, the Strong" and "Printer's Devil."

Harry Fleer also appears in "Once Upon a Time."

Josip Elic also appears in "One More Pallbearer."

Episode Quotes
Opening Narration
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 super states 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.

Romney 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!
Romney Wordsworth: You cannot erase God with an edict!
Chancellor: You are obsolete, Mr. Wordsworth.
Romney Wordsworth: A lie! No man is obsolete.
Chancellor: You have no function, Mr. Wordsworth. You're an anachronism, like a ghost from another time.
Romney 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.
Romney 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.
Romney 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.

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
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.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBuck Houghton
EditorJason H. Bernie
Set DecoratorH. Web Arrowsmith  |  Henry Grace
Director of PhotographyGeorge T. Clemens
Art DirectorPhilip Barber  |  George W. Davis
Production ManagerRalph Nelson
Sound EditorFranklin Milton
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
SoundWilliam Edmondson
Assistant DirectorE. Darrell Hallenbeck
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