The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
36 user 6 critic

Time Enough at Last 

A henpecked book lover finds himself blissfully alone with his books after a nuclear war.


John Brahm


Rod Serling (teleplay by), Lynn Venable (based on a short story by)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Burgess Meredith ... Henry Bemis
Vaughn Taylor ... Mr. Carsville
Jacqueline deWit ... Helen Bemis (as Jaqueline deWit)
Lela Bliss Lela Bliss ... Mrs. Chester


Henry Bemis loves to read. The only problem is that he can find neither the time nor the place to enjoy his pastime. At work, his boss has let him know in no uncertain terms that he is not to read during working hours. At home, his shrewish wife won't even let him read a newspaper, let alone a book. One day, he sneaks down to the vault in the bank's basement to read a bit and suddenly, there is a huge explosion above. He emerges to find the world destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. He does find books from the library and he sees a great deal of reading time ahead of him. Except for one small unintended event. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis








Release Date:

20 November 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Time Enough at Last 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?


This is one of only four episodes of The Twilight Zone (1959) in which Rod Serling uses a mid-episode narration. The other three are The Twilight Zone: Walking Distance (1959), The Twilight Zone: I Shot an Arrow into the Air (1960) and The Twilight Zone: I Sing the Body Electric (1962). See more »


Despite the H-bomb concussion that breaks the crystal in Henry Bemis' pocket watch, the light bulb in the hanging light in the vault not only remains intact, but stays lit during the "total destruction" going on outside. See more »


Rod Serling - Narrator: [Middle narration - While Bemis wanders through the ruins of the destroyed city] Seconds, minutes, hours, they crawl by on hands and knees for Mr. Henry Bemis, who looks for a spark in the ashes of a dead world. A telephone connected to nothingness, a neighborhood bar, a movie, a baseball diamond, a hardware store, the mailbox that was once his house and now is rubble; they lie at his feet as battered monuments to what was but is no more.
Henry Bemis: Helen! Helen! Where are you!
Rod Serling - Narrator: Mr. Henry Bemis, on an eight...
See more »


Spoofed in Weird Science: Sci-Fi Zoned (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

Possibly the Most Horrific Half-Hour of Television Ever.
2 August 2006 | by MetalMiikeSee all my reviews

Such a powerful piece of drama this. It gives us a character so vulnerable and sympathetic that we, perhaps, see a little of the dreamer within ourselves in him. A small, mousy, child-like man at the mercy of his grouchy employer and domineering wife until World War III gives him a world of his very own.

This, like most Twilight Zone episodes, begins with a vaguely light-hearted feel that could go either way but by the end we are exposed to a reversal of fortune so tragic and so deeply ironic that I for one have never been able to return to watching this episode; the best laid plans of mice and men gone horrible awry.

Presumably this is meant as a warning against letting our dreams and fantasies get the better of us or perhaps it is intended to condemn those who force us to live too much in the real world. Stirling was always one to say the things we did not want to hear but in this, he succeeded only too well. It is perhaps merciful that Stirling had a sense of humour (let alone a heart) because if every episode of The Twilight Zone had reached this standard it would, conversely have been unwatchable because an audience cannot put up with this much cruelty every week.

If you see, it will affect you. I was left shattered and I don't intend to sit through it again. You may may only be able to take it once, but do see it.

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