Twilight Zone – The Obsolete Man

★★★★★  June 2, 1961 Season 2 Episode 29

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

This episode is a cautionary tale of a totalitarian state of the near future. This one ranks as one of the best of the series. The government in The Obsolete Man determines if you are necessary or as the title states…obsolete.  The plot was running theme with Serling who wrote about the fascist governments of World War II that he encountered while in the war…and the suppression of the inherent rights of a human being.

.It has two main characters. Romney Wordsworth, a Christian librarian played by Burgess Meredith. The second is the Chancellor, played by Fritz Weaver. Both of them play off each other with sharp, powerful dialogue. Wordsworth is the victim in this but slowly turns the tables on the Chancellor until him, not the state, is in charge of the situation although it comes at a great cost. Casting again hit a homerun with this episode.

A five star classic and a grand finale to the 2nd season. This episode is not only a classic…but an important one to watch and learn…and should not to be forgotten

After the classic Meredith episode Time Enough at Last…books were again Meredith’s character main focal point.

This show was written by Rod Serling

Rod Serling’s 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’s built out of flesh and because he has a mind. Mr. Romney Wordsworth, who will draw his last breaths in The Twilight Zone.


In a futuristic totalitarian world, meek and mild-mannered librarian Romney Wordsworth finds himself on trial for being obsolete. This future society has decided on everything people need to know. There is no God and there are no books. Society doesn’t need librarians. Romney makes an impassioned plea about his rights and free will but the judge in the case, the Chancellor, will have nothing of it. The jury finds Romney obsolete and orders him to be executed. As he can choose the method of his death, Romney’s plans include a little surprise for the Chancellor.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

The chancellor, the late chancellor, was only partly correct. He was obsolete. But so is the State, the entity he worshiped. Any state, any entity, any ideology which 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.


Rod Serling…Narrator
Burgess Meredith…Romney Wordsworth
Fritz Weaver…Chancellor
Josip Elic…the Subaltern
Harry Fleer…Guard
Harold Innocent…Man in Crowd

My Life in the Shadow of The Twilight Zone: TZ Promo: “The Obsolete Man”  (6/02/1961)