The Man Who Was Never Born

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"The Man Who Was Never Born"
The Outer Limits episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 6
Directed by Leonard Horn
Written by Anthony Lawrence
Cinematography by Conrad Hall
Production code 12
Original air date October 28, 1963
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Sixth Finger"
Next →
List of The Outer Limits episodes

"The Man Who Was Never Born" (original title: "Cry of the Unborn") is an episode of the original The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 28 October 1963, during the first season.


An astronaut returning to Earth finds himself flung into the distant future, where he finds the mutated remnants of humanity living on a ruined Earth.

Opening narration[edit]

Here, in the bright, clustered loneliness of the billion, billion stars, loneliness can be an exciting, voluntary thing, unlike the loneliness Man suffers on Earth. Here, deep in the starry nowhere, a man can be as one with space and time; preoccupied, yet not indifferent; anxious and yet at peace. His name is Joseph Reardon. He is, in this present year, thirty years old. This is the first time he has made this journey alone…


Having accidentally travelled through time, astronaut Joseph Reardon lands on in Earth in the year 2148 A.D to find it a desolate realm. He meets Andro, a mutated human stricken with a disfiguring disease for which there is no cure. Andro is one of the few survivors of a biological disaster brought on by an ambitious scientist named Bertram Cabot, Jr., who isolated and developed a viral symbiont from an interstellar microbe. Cabot's symbiont physically altered the human race, precluding the ability to reproduce, and turned much of Earth's landscape into a barren wasteland.

Andro laments that there is no hope for the human race to survive after the last survivors die off. But Reardon claims that there is hope, and decides to see if he can return to his own time, taking Andro with him to show what the future will be like and prevent a disastrous outcome. While returning through the time rift, Reardon dies from physical stress brought about by making the journey twice in one day, but tells Andro to kill Cabot if he has no other way to stop him, thus saving billions of lives at the cost of one. The deformed Andro can project himself as a normal human using hypnotic suggestion, and uses this ability to begin searching for some way to stop Cabot's work, even if it means assassinating him.

It soon becomes clear that Andro has arrived on Earth prematurely: Bertram Cabot, Jr. has not been born yet, and his parents, Noelle Anderson and Bertram Cabot, Sr., are just about to be married. Andro, in the guise of a normal human of the time, unsuccessfully attempts to convince Cabot that he should not marry Noelle.

Andro himself begins to fall in love with Noelle. While attempting to kill Cabot during the wedding ceremony with a revolver obtained from Reardon, Andro hesitates and is assaulted by Cabot, revealing his true appearance in the process. Andro flees, but Noelle follows him. He explains his mission, and Noelle confesses that she has fallen in love with Andro. She convinces him to take her with him to the future, thereby avoiding any possibility that she and Cabot will have a child. Bu unfortunately, the flow of time has been altered through Andro and Noelle's actions; because Bertram Cabot, Jr. was never born, the symbiont that made Andro's mutated existence possible never existed, meaning that Andro was also "never born." Andro disappears just as the ship arrives in "his" time, 2148 A.D., leaving Noelle, weeping, to face the future alone.

Closing narration[edit]

It is said that if you move a single pebble on the beach, you set up a different pattern, and everything in the world is changed. It can also be said that love can change the future, if it is deep enough, true enough, and selfless enough. It can prevent a war, prohibit a plague, keep the whole world… whole.


No one has left or returned to Earth in almost 200 years.
We have memorized every detail of his life - his various addresses, his cares, his joys, his friends, his family. Noelle, they called his mother...Noelle. A woman who issued destruction for all future Christmases.
Come...I will show you all that is left of moments, men and places.
It's good to cherish old is always on the edge of being lost.
There is a great deal of comfort in the sounds of youth.
When a woman combs her hair, she imitates the motion of the stars.
He's all the things I ever dreamed of in a man. He doesn't play at life, or dream it...he lives it, in all its seriousness and pleasure.
I've often wondered what that quality of mind is that enables a soldier to encounter death with firmness, valor and boldness.
To save your own child from destruction, would you press a button destroying all the children of another land?
You have a very practical and objective father, like son.
I am that hallucination you saw in the woods, Noelle...the great trial you're about to face.
Look at me. There are travelers in time, Noelle. There are people in tomorrow's cities; living, breathing strangers whom you never see, but who are there, just the same. And, instead of the glorious future all men envisioned, there is only a dark and empty road, leading to misery and mourning. This is the world from which I came, Noelle...a world of tomorrow...a world you will help make.



The story's origin is revealed in an interview with the its writer, Anthony Lawrence:[1]

Q: How did “The Man Who Was Never Born” come about?

A: I had this idea in my mind, a kind of a beauty and the beast idea, and so it kind of developed from that, because that was one of my old favorites, Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, the French version, which was a beautiful film. I was thinking of that film, and also just the idea that had always kind of fascinated me. Joseph Stefano loved the idea, and it had [in it], as I remember, a lot of what I was feeling at the time. I always liked romantic stories, and this was a chance to do something that you really don’t get to do very often in television. I gravitated toward that.

Q: Did Stefano, the show’s producer, contribute to the script of “The Man Who Was Never Born”?

A: Not much to that. [...]

The plot for this episode is markedly similar to the movie Twelve Monkeys, that was based on the 1962 French short film La jetée by Chris Marker. The protagonist of both stories travels back in time in an attempt to prevent a biological holocaust that has destroyed mankind in his time. See also, the 1990s Outer Limits episode, "Patient Zero".


  1. ^ [1] Original TOLAIR interview available on Peter Enfantino and John Scoleri blog.