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Delusions, Mr Wordsworth! Delusions that you inject into your veins with printer's ink! The narcotics that you call literature, poetry...All of it an opiate! You have nothing but spindly limbs of a dream, and the State has no use for your kind!
~ The Chancellor rants against literature at Wordsworth's trial.

The Chancellor is the main antagonist of the Twilight Zone episode The Obsolete Man. He is a high-ranking member of The State, a totalitarian dictatorship that has outlawed books, religion and anything else deemed "obsolete". He was portrayed by the late Fritz Weaver, who also played Asteroth in the Friday the 13th TV show.

Biography

In the far future, America has been taken over by a fascist dictatorship and is now a country named "The State", in which anything deemed "obsolete" is illegal and obsolescence is punishable by death. The head of the State is the Chancellor, who presides over the trials of those deemed to be obsolete. One such man is Romney Wordsworth, a man deemed obsolete due to his professed occupation of librarian, as the State has outlawed books for being obsolete. During the trial, Wordsworth expresses a belief in God, which the Chancellor takes as further proof of obsolescence, as the State claims that they have proven God does not exist, and argues that he is not obsolete, as his purpose is to make sure ideas outlawed by the State survive even after he is gone, telling the Chancellor that "If I speak one thought aloud, that thought remains, even after I'm shovelled into my grave!". Following this exchange, the Chancellor finds Wordsworth guilty and sentences him to death. Wordsworth responds by requesting that he be allowed to have his execution broadcast on TV with a personal executioner who is the only person apart from him who knows how he is to be executed. The Chancellor agrees to this request.

When Wordsworth is about to be executed, he requests that the Chancellor be present to witness his death. The Chancellor agrees, and arrives to talk to Wordsworth. Wordsworth explains to the Chancellor that he is to be executed via a bomb placed in the room that is to detonate at midnight. The Chancellor is initially happy with this, until Wordsworth informs him that the executioner has now locked, the door, meaning he is now trapped in the room with the bomb. He also tells the Chancellor that no-one will save him, as the State cannot release him without also releasing Wordsworth and losing face with the nation (due to the execution being broadcast live). As the bomb counts down, Wordsworth remains calm and reads from his Bible, whereas the Chancellor slowly breaks down and panics. Eventually, just before the bomb goes off, the Chancellor shouts at Wordsworth to let him go "in the name of God", exposing him as religious and therefore obsolete on live TV. Wordsworth responds by unlocking the door and allowing him to leave, remaining behind to die in the explosion.

Due to his cowardice and professed belief in God, the Chancellor is replaced and put on trial for being obsolete. After being found guilty and sentenced to death, the Chancellor protests that he is not obsolete and attempts to run away, but is overpowered by the attendants and disappears beneath a crowd of attackers as he continues to insist that he is not obsolete. The Twilight Zone 's narrator Rod Serling then appears onscreen and refers to him as "the late Chancellor", indicating that he was either killed by the attendants or executed for his obsolescence, before explaining that he was obsolete, as "Any state, any entity, any ideology which fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of Man...that state is obsolete".

Trivia

  • The State shares many similarities with other fictional dictatorships such as INGSOC from 1984 and the unnamed dictatorship from Fahrenheit 451.
  • The Chancellor appears in an online Downfall Parody named "Hitler is informed he is obsolete", in which the aforementioned INGSOC have taken over the world and put Adolf Hitler on trial for starting a world war. During Hitler's trial, which is presided over by the Chancellor, Hitler repeatedly objects to the Chancellor's assertions that he is obsolete and demands to see Big Brother, who he claims to like more than the Chancellor. Eventually, Hitler has enough of the Chancellor, and shouts at him to "go and tell Fegelein he is obsolete!".

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