The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
37 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)

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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?


Rod Serling's closing narration for this 1959 episode begins, "The best laid plans of mice and men..." a famous quote from Robert Burns' classic poem, "To a Mouse." Twenty years earlier, actor Burgess Meredith, who plays Henry Bemis in this episode, starred in the film "Of Mice and Men," an adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel which took its name directly from the same quote. The full quote is as follows: "But, Mousie, thou art no thy-lane, In proving foresight may be vain; The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley, An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promis'd joy!" See more »


Mr. Bemis expects to live "years and years and years" post-attack. In 1959, the effects of nuclear fallout were still under initial study and not widely understood. We see Bemis emerging from the bank vault more or less immediately after a thermonuclear blast (bomb-shelter protocol says to wait at least two weeks for the worst of the radioactivity to decay), eating packaged food that was probably irradiated, etc. So even with his glasses, Bemis would have not lived to enjoy his books for very long. See more »


Mr. Carsville: I remember last November you spent the better part of the days reading campaign buttons on customer's lapels. You'll recall, Mr. Bemis, the young woman who took considerable offense at this and tried to hit you with her umbrella.
Henry Bemis: I remember that very well, Mr. Carsville. She never gave me a chance to tell her that I was only looking at who she was voting for.
See more »


Spoofed in Futurama: A Head in the Polls (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

'I was only trying to see who she voted for'.
1 December 2013 | by darrenpearce111See all my reviews

Henry Bemis (Burgess Meredith) recalls getting hit with an umbrella for reading a campaign slogan a young lady was wearing. This is the story of a timid man who simply cannot stop finding himself in trouble purely for his love of reading. His wife and his employer the bank president despise him for it. For a time it seems that this is a comedy, then the great change comes. Serling's narration returns, unusually, somewhere in the middle.

A compact, classic twenty-three minutes of TV. An all important twist at the end making this a must-see TZ if you have not already. Interestingly, when Burgess Meredith returned to the TZ in season two he played another hapless soul like Bemis in 'Mr Dingle The Strong'. That same year he played a librarian in a society where books are banned in 'The Obsolete Man'. His final appearance was all about printing news in 'Printer's Devil' in season four. All in all a great body of work nicely connected by a fine actor.

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