The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
43 user 8 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)




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



Did You Know?


The first of four Twilight Zone starring roles for Burgess Meredith. See more »


At the sporting good store ruins, Bemis finds an already loaded revolver in the display case. A loaded revolver would NEVER be kept in a display case. See more »


Rod Serling - Narrator: [Closing Narration] The best-laid plans of mice and men - and Henry Bemis, the small man in the glasses who wanted nothing but time. Henry Bemis, now just a part of a smashed landscape, just a piece of the rubble, just a fragment of what man has deeded to himself. Mr. Henry Bemis - in the Twilight Zone.
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Edited into The Clock (2010) See more »


Twilight Zone Theme
(theme song)
Composed by Bernard Herrmann
(season 1)
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User Reviews

An excellent variation of the Tantalus myth
15 December 2013 | by GTeixeiraSee all my reviews

So far one of the best episodes I've seen of the series, 'Time Enough at Last' adapts a short story about a bookworm-ish man whose hobby is frowned upon by those around him, thus making it almost impossible for him to find the time or place to read. Surviving a nuclear attack/war, he finds himself alone with all the time for that...

An excellent episode, that manages to do in mere 25-minutes what many fail in full features; being both entertaining, smart, and making you think. There are some aspects that feel silly or seem not very thought- out (how the main character survives, for example). There is little to no overacting; Burgess Meredith is excellent, managing to truly give life to his character, a timid and meek book-lover, while Vaughn Taylor and Jacqueline deWit also play their roles accordingly.

Yet, it is in the concept that this excels. I hear much theorizing about what this story really means, what it is supposed to be a metaphor or fable for... Truth is, I certainly don't know, but above all it is based on the old Tantalus myth.

In old Greek Mythology, Tantalus was punished by having to endure eternal hunger and thirst, with both water and food close to him. It was always there, illusorily at his grasp, yet he could never reach either. The 'so close, yet so far' expression, made real. 'Time Enough at Last' is a perfect illustration of this myth, and the ending in special is bound to touch you in some way.

It is a haunting piece that will keep you thinking and feeling even after it is over. One of the first masterpieces of the show.

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Release Date:

20 November 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Time Enough at Last See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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