If you’re looking to really, truly immerse yourself in the apocalypse, it’s time to dive into some of the world’s biggest and best post apocalyptic TV shows. After all, there’s something about the sheer scale of the apocalypse, the huge, hideous size of the end of the world that can’t always be captured in a 90-minute film.
So today, I’ve corralled 10 of the very best post apocalyptic TV shows into a single blog post, a handy reference for you when you’ve run of out of television, and you’re looking to lose yourself in the end of the world. From zombie epidemics to viral outbreaks, alien invasions to total atomic annihilation, the 10 post apocalyptic TV shows covered here will sate your need for disaster for hours and hours and hours.
1) The Walking Dead (2010-)
If you like TV shows, and you love the apocalypse, chances are you’re already a devoted, hardcore The Walking Dead fan.
For the uninitiated (and seriously, where have you been since 2010?!), The Walking Dead takes place in a world ravaged by a zombie apocalypse. Sheriff Rick Grimes wakes up in a deserted hospital in the heart of Atlanta, finding only death and decay at his doorstep. In a desperate bid to find his family, he sets out into the corpse-infested city.
Six years on and The Walking Dead is still going strong, with more plot twists, heart breaks and gruesome endings than you can shake a chain-covered baseball bat at. If you’re going to watch any of the post apocalyptic TV shows on this list, The Walking Dead is the place to start.
2) Fear the Walking Dead (2015-)
Fear the Walking Dead is the apocalyptic sister of the biggest franchise on this list, and explores the world of The Walking Dead as the zombie apocalypse starts to take hold of the US. As Rick lays comatose in an Atlanta hospital, the series follows a brand new cast of characters as they watch Los Angeles succumb to the pandemic.
Though less popular than the original series, Fear the Dead is a worthy spin-off that should hold the attention of any die-hard post apocalyptic fan.
3) Survivors (2008, 2010)
Survivors is a British TV series that, like the survivors of the apocalypse, had a short and violent lifespan. Originally broadcast in 2008, the series went off the air after a single season. Thankfully it’s popularity was high enough to warrant a second season in 2010 – and even now, fans are clamouring for a third.
Survivors treads a similar path to the 1975 TV show of the same name, and looks at the world after an unknown virus has eradicated 90% of the population. Following a handful of survivors as they flee London, the show charts their attempts to band together and wait out the worst of the pandemic – but greed and self-interest soon turn the situation violent.
(Try and get over the lame cover art – it’s a great series, I promise.)
4) The 100 (2014-)
One of the more recent post apocalyptic TV shows to grace our screens, The 100 combines nuclear Armageddon, a spaceship housing the last of civilisation, and 100 juvenile delinquents.
Almost a century after the global war that wiped out most of humanity, a group of misbehaving youths are sent back to the planet to function as human Guinea Pigs to see if the planet is habitable. When the miscreants arrive to an overgrown Earth, they discover that they aren’t alone – and that the war left survivors behind.
5) Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)
The TV series fits in to the rest of the Battlestar Galactica franchise: in the distant future, in a distant solar system, civilisation is spread across a group of twelve planets. In a twist straight from The Terminator series, humanity finds itself in conflict with a cybernetic race of its own creation: culminating in an attack that eradicates almost all of the human race.
A small band of survivors, on board the only surviving Battlestar (yep – it’s called Galactica) are tasked with finding a fabled refuge from their distant past: a place called Earth.
6) Jericho (2006-2008)
In another severe case of nuclear conflict, Jericho sees the US suffer from 23 nuclear strikes, targeted at major population centres. With the power and communication networks down, the inhabitants of the rural Kansas town of Jericho struggle to come terms with their new world: learning how to survive, and fight, in their new post apocalyptic environment.
Like Survivors, Jericho‘s first season suffered from lacklustre ratings – but a concerted effort from die-hard fans was enough to convince producers to resurrect the show for a second (and final) season.
7) The Last Man on Earth (2015-)
Occasionally, in the midst of all the death and decay, the post apocalyptic genre throws up a little ray of sunshine. The Last Man on Earth is the rarest of things: an end of the world comedy.
By the year 2020, a deadly virus (definitely one of the more popular apocalyptic tropes) has seemingly eradicated the population of North America, with the exception of one man: Phil Miller. Phil sets out on a fruitless quest to connect with other survivors, only to return home to find somebody waiting for him.
The Last Man on Earth is pretty remarkable in its ability to portray the end of the world with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. If you’d like a break from the doom and gloom, but you don’t want to give up on the genre just yet, The Last Man is an awesome show to check out.
8) Falling Skies (2011-2015)
Six months in from a devastating alien invasion, and humanity isn’t doing so well. The characters of Falling Skies, a group of civilians and soldiers that make up the 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment, are trapped in downtown Boston.
With 90% of the world’s population eradicated, and the world’s power grids disabled, escaping the city is no mean feat. Falling Skies follows the survivors as they try to evade the mechanical drones and spider-like aliens that have taken over the planet; balancing their desperate need to survive with their desire to repel the alien invaders and reclaim their home.
Directed by none other than Steven Spielberg, Falling Skies is a killer combination of science fiction and disaster – and combining the end of the world with a full-blow alien invasion is A-OK in my book.
9) The Stand (1994)
Falling into the category of ‘an oldie but a goodie’, The Stand was a one-series TV adaptation of the legendary Stephen King book (and #41 in our roundup of the 50 best post apocalyptic books).
When a lethal superbug (known as Captain Trips) is let loose upon an unsuspecting planet, vast swathes of civilisation are eradicated. The Stand follows a handful of survivors as they make their way across America, driven by an escalating conflict between Good and Evil – with Evil taking the form of King’s recurring nightmare character Randall Flagg.
Related Stephen King news: The Dark Tower, another of King’s awesome post apocalypse-inspired works, is getting a movie adaptation. Better still, it’s slated to star Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba. Sweet!
10) 12 Monkeys (2015-)
Time travel and a deadly plague: what’s not to like? In the future timeline of 12 Monkeys, a lethal virus has wiped out 93% of the world’s population (I’m sure the cast of Survivors can relate). With the plague unleashed upon the Earth by a mysterious organisation known as The Army of the Twelve Monkeys, the show’s protagonist is tasked with travelling back in time to save the world.
This is another post apocalyptic TV show based loosely on an existing film, in this case the 1995 film 12 Monkeys: a neo-noir sci-fi flick starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, and directed by Terry Gilliam (yep – of Monty Python and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas fame). If you want to find out more, it’s featured in our round-up of the 20 best post apocalyptic movies.
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