The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
28 user 3 critic

The Obsolete Man 

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


Elliot Silverstein


Rod Serling, Rod Serling (created by)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Burgess Meredith ... Romney Wordsworth
Fritz Weaver ... Chancellor
Josip Elic Josip Elic ... Subaltern (as Josep Elic)
Harry Fleer Harry Fleer ... Guard
Barry Brooks Barry Brooks ... Board Member
Harold Innocent ... Board Member
Jane Romeyn 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) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When Wordsworth is reading from the Bible, he quotes the following verses: Psalm 23 Psalm 59:1 Psalm 14:1 (or Psalm 53:1) Psalm 142:1 Psalm 130:1-2 See more »


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


Narrator: [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 Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of Man, that state is obsolete.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.
See more »


Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Best Twilight Zone Episodes (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

30 June 2009 | by lennon62See all my reviews

I just watched this episode today. And, it seems as though every time I watch it. I get chills. The ones that are saying this episode is too preachy. You maybe right to a degree. However, this episode makes a powerful, and chilling statement.

Some who commented above said that he "Used" to think that this episode was preachy. But, no more. If you look around, especially with the Obama administration. We are seeing more, and more government control. And, the American people just seem to give in today. All, in the name of safety. And, also in the name of anit piracy. Obama wants to pass a law. That would give law enforcement the power to come in to your home without a warrent. And, confiscate computers that are suspected to hold illegal copywritten material. No, search warrant, only if they suspect that you have such material If this isn't' a form of nearly total government control. I don't know what is. And, no offense to the ones who say this episode is "Preachy". But, if I had any complaints whatsoever. it would be that maybe this episode wasn't preachy enough. Given, the fact that we are, where we are today. And, someone in the above post. Also illuded that perhaps this was a slam against Democrats. I disagree. I believe that Rod was say that any for of government can be like this. Rebuplicans, and Democrats a like.

To, those who haven't seen it. Strap in, and be ready for an intellectual ride. In my view, this episode is by far my favorite.

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