I love the post-apocalypse genre. If a show is set after civilisation has been destroyed, I will probably watch it if it passes the four-episode test.
The post-apocalyptic TV show is a subgenre of science fiction. The world has been devastated by some cataclysmic event — nuclear war, viral outbreak, alien invasion, etc. — and survivors are left to fend for themselves in a changing world.
Here’s a list of 10 post-apocalyptic TV shows worth watching:
Whether you want to be frightened out of your mind or feel a little emotional at the thought of how fragile our society is, there are many post-apocalyptic shows worth watching.
1. Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)
Battlestar Galactica is one of those TV shows I wish I could watch again for the first time. The remake is better than the original. Not only does it retain all of the drama, action, and suspense of its predecessor, but it also tackles more mature themes like religion and politics.
The story is set in a distant star system. The Colonies, which humans inhabit, have been at war with an android race known as the Cylons. A human scientist named Gaius Baltar unwittingly helps the Cylons launch an attack on the Colonies, laying waste to the planets and devastating their populations. Of a population in the billions, only approximately 50,000 humans survive, and now they are on the run to save what is left whilst the Cylons pursue them relentlessly.
2. The 100 (2014-2020)
The 100 is set 97 years after an apocalyptic event wiped out almost all life. The remaining 5% of the human population lives on space stations, called The Ark. Due to overpopulation, the Ark’s life support systems are failing, and the leaders send 100 juvenile prisoners back to Earth in a last-ditch effort to determine whether it is habitable.
When the group arrives at Earth, they discover that others have survived the apocalypse: the Grounders, who live in clans locked in a power struggle; the Reapers, another group of Grounders who have been turned into cannibals by mountain men; and the Mountain Men, who live in Mount Weather. To save their lives, the 100 have to become like the grounders.
3. The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is a post-apocalyptic horror television series based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. The series stars Andrew Lincoln as sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes. He wakes from a coma in an abandoned hospital to find a post-apocalyptic world dominated by flesh-eating zombies called walkers.
Rick was wounded during his duty as a police officer and was taken to this hospital for treatment. He doesn’t know what happened and where everyone went. He sets out to find his family. Whilst fighting off walkers, he encounters many other survivors along the way.
4. 12 Monkeys (2015-2018)
12 Monkeys is a science fiction show based on the 1995 movie of the same name.
In the year 2043, scavenger James Cole (Aaron Stanford) was recruited by a team of “Project Splinter” scientists led by physicist Katarina Jones (Barbara Sukowa) to travel back in time to the year 2015 and stop the release of a deadly virus by the mysterious organisation known as the “Army of the 12 Monkeys”.
In Cole’s original timeline, the virus caused a plague that resulted in the death of seven billion humans in 2017, and its on-going mutations will mean the eventual end of the human race. In the 2015 timeline, Cole will meet and enlist the help of brilliant virologist Dr Cassandra “Cassie” Railly (Amanda Schull); the two are brought together because of a recording mentioning Cole, that Cassie made after the viral outbreak, is uncovered by Katarina Jones in post-apocalyptic 2043.
5. Van Helsing
The TV series Van Helsing is a reimagining of the classic Dracula story, set in a world dominated by vampires. Vanessa Helsing, daughter of famous vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, spends five years in a coma and is resurrected only to find that vampires have taken over the world. Vanessa’s unique blood composition allows her to turn vampires into humans. With this secret weapon, she becomes humanity’s last hope to lead an offensive to take back what has been lost.
Snowpiercer is set more than seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland and centres around the remnants of humanity who inhabit a 1001 car, a perpetually moving train that circles the globe. Class warfare, social injustice and the politics of survival are questioned in this riveting television adaptation based on author Jaques Lob’s graphic novel “Le Transperceneige” (1978) and then adapted into Bong Joon Ho’s 2013 feature film starring Chris Evans.
7. Z Nation
It’s three years into a virus-caused zombie apocalypse that has already decimated over 90 per cent of the human population. In the hopes of developing a vaccine, a team is tasked with escorting the only known survivor of a zombie bite from New York to California, where the last functioning viral lab is located. Although the antibodies he carries are the world’s last, best hope for a vaccine, he hides a dark secret that threatens them. Along the way, they must deal with zombie attacks, societal collapse, and other obstacles in their way.
8. Jericho (2006-2008)
Jericho is centred around a town named Jericho in Kansas. A nuclear weapon goes off in Denver, and our hero Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) rushes home to his hometown to be with his family. Soon after this, he discovers that there are many more cities that nuclear weapons have destroyed.
The town of Jericho is cut off from all communication with the outside world, so they have no idea what is going on or what has happened to any other city out there. Jake makes it his mission to find out what happened and how they can rebuild society.
Jericho is a series centring on the residents of the small town of Jericho, Kansas, in the aftermath of nuclear attacks on 23 major cities in the contiguous United States. As the besieged people struggle to survive, they must also cope with dangerous infighting within their community. Skeet Ulrich plays an Army vet who returns home after a long absence.
9. The Rain
The Rain is a Danish Netflix original post-apocalyptic series from writers Jannik Tai Mosholt, Christian Potalivo and Esben Toft Jacobsen and producer Peter Bose. It focuses on siblings Simone (Alba August) and Rasmus Andersen (Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen), who emerge from an underground bunker after a virus has wiped out most of Scandinavia.
They are looking for their father (Lars Simonsen), who was working on a cure when the virus spread. They join a group of young survivors and together set out on a danger-filled quest through abandoned Scandinavia, searching for any sign of life.
Revolution comes from Supernatural creator Eric Kripke and is built in a post-apocalyptic future, where a worldwide blackout caused by a mysterious electromagnetic pulse permanently disables all electronic devices. It stars Billy Burke as Miles Matheson, former US Marine Sergeant who leads a group of civilians and militias in an attempt to survive and reunite with his children.
Will you watch them?
If you love post-apocalyptic settings, you need to check out at least a few shows on this list. They’re all worth watching, and they each offer something different in terms of perspective and story. There’s plenty to see here, so get started now before the world ends.
If you have any other recommendations that I didn’t include, please make them in the comments section below!