The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
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The Obsolete Man 

In a future totalitarian society, a librarian is declared obsolete and sentenced to death.



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Episode complete credited cast:
Romney Wordsworth
Josip Elic ...
Subaltern (as Josep Elic)
Harry Fleer ...
Barry Brooks ...
Board Member
Harold Innocent ...
Board Member
Jane Romeyn ...
Board Member


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. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis





Release Date:

2 June 1961 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The definition of the character Subaltern means Junior Officer. See more »


At the beginning, the Subaltern is heard to say, "Wordsworth, Romney, obsolescence," but his lips are not moving. See more »


Romney Wordsworth: Chancellor.
Chancellor: [turning back from the door] Make it brief, Mr. Wordsworth.
Romney Wordsworth: You have plenty of time. You're not going anywhere.
Chancellor: How's that?
Romney Wordsworth: I'm afraid I haven't been very fair with you. I invited you here for a very special reason. Would you like to know the method that I've chosen for my - liquidation? Well, in a very few moments, here in this room, a bomb is going off.
Chancellor: How thoughtful, Mr. Wordsworth, a relatively quick and painless death.
Romney Wordsworth: Yes, isn't it? However, knowing that you're going to be ...
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Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Best Twilight Zone Episodes (2016) See more »

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25 February 2006 | by (Florida, USA) – See all my reviews

Another of Rod Serling's cautionary tales of the rise of the totalitarian state.

Rodney Wordsworth is declared "obsolete" by a tribunal of the state in the not too distant future. The sentence is. of course, death, but some surprises await the State at the humble hands of Mr. Wordsworth.

Anyone seeing this episode today will be shocked at it's relevance. A society which has "proven" that there is no God; a state which enforces a mind-numbing conformity; a state which refuses to respect or acknowledge the rights of the individual or the sanctity of life.

Watch this episode and reflect long and hard.

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