For fans of the post-apocalyptic genre, here is a list of some of the top shows and movies. We excluded many of the zombie films as that is quickly becoming its own genre with all the options that have hit the market in the past decade or so. But enjoy the list!
You know a series is good when the writers nuke Denver in the very first episode. Talk about getting a post-apocalyptic fan's attention. The show follows the residents of the town of Jericho, Kansas as they struggle to deal with situations that arise and the loss of societal norms that follow.
While only lasting for thirty episodes, the show touches on many of the central themes that would likely arise in a post-apocalyptic scenario including loss of power, lack of food, roving bands of mercenaries, security issues, and re-establishment of the government.
Realism Factor: 9 out of 10
Show Quality: 9 out of 10
Battlestar Gallactica (2004)
This show is a remake of an earlier 1970s show that follows the remains of the human species as they struggle to survive after an attack from an alien entity known as the Cyclons. With only about 50,000 humans remaining and one military ship known as the Battlestar Gallactica, the humans struggle to deal with survival.
With an excellent cast and touching on some interesting themes of both survival and survival in space, this show ran for four seasons and a whopping 75 episodes.
Realism Factor: 6 out of 10 (we don't have that technology yet)
Show Quality: 9.5 out of 10
The Postman (1997)
The film is set in the year 2013 after an unnamed apocalypse has struck the United States. The story follows a nomadic drifter and his travels through what was once the Western United States. Stumbling across an old mail truck, the drifter assumes the role of a Restored United States mail carrier and goes from town to town to seek food and shelter.
The movie touches on many central themes including lack of resources, organized armies and towns, and life without technology.
Realism Factor: 9 out of 10 (A little further down the road toward recovery)
Movie Quality: 8.5 out of 10 (a little long)
The Road (2009)
The story follows a man and his son as they travel south in search of warmer areas in a post-apocalyptic scenario. Through a series of flashbacks, we learned more about the duo's history and what happened to the mother.
Struggles included sickness, shelter, food, cannibals and other organized bands of people. This one has a far darker mood than that of the Postman, but in terms of realism, probably trumps it.
Realism Factor: 10 out of 10
Movie Quality: 9 out of 10
Blindness is the story of a couple (Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo) as they get quarantined when Ruffalo catches a virus that makes you blind. Moore is immune but does not want to get separated from her husband. They are put in a facility and locked up with other groups that also have the virus. Moore keeps the fact that she can see close to the vest.
The story follows the couple as society begins to break down and the people in the facility are then isolated. Life goes downhill quickly for the couple as they struggle with a lack of resources. Picture a prison without the guards on the inside.
Realism Factor: 7.5 out of 10
Movie Quality: 8 out of 10
The Road Warrior (1981)
Simply, the Godfather of the genre. The story follows Mel Gibson as he drives around the wasteland searching for resources. The movie is a sequel to Mad Max which saw his family killed in the ever declining society. Now in full blown post-apocalyptic rage, Max hooks up with a colony of people that are under siege by a murderous band of miscreants.
Dark all the way through, this movie touches on many themes of post-apocalyptic life including a lack of resources, power struggles, and hope for a better life.
Realism Factor: 9 out of 10
Movie Quality: 10 out of 10
Costner spent a lot of time preparing for the end of the world in the 1990s. His first foray into the topic was this outlandish offering. Waterworld follows the mutated hero as he scavenges under the now water-covered planet and then goes from atoll to atoll to trade with others for parts and supplies for his super hobie-cat boat.
He eventually runs into a young girl with the secret to uncovered land tattoed on her back. How she got there and why she has the tattoo are never answered. But in terms of post-apocalyptic themes, a water covered planet sure was a new one to see.
Realism Factor: 3 out of 10 (the mutation was a little much)
Movie Quality: 5 out of 10 (9 for originality, 2 for the bad acting)
The Book of Eli (2010)
The book of Eli follows Denzel as he travels across the country which is now a wasteland. He comes across all manner of bad things from roving packs of people looking to rob him, to cannibal senior citizens.
He picks up Mila Kunis in a town and she becomes his sidekick. Pretty interesting twist in the end which is rather hard to put together with the rest of the movie, but it does make it interesting. And any one who thinks Mila Kunis lasts more than five minutes after the movie's final scene is delusional.
Realism Factor: 6.5 out of 10 (good post-apocalyptic scenes, 0 for marksmanship reality)
Movie Quality: 7.5 out of 10
Night of the Comet (1984)
A guilty pleasure of the genre from the 80's. The movie follows a pair of sisters who survive a passing comet that vaporizes most of the inhabitants of the planet. Those in steel-lined bunker areas survive unharmed. The pair emerges from their unknown safe havens to discover that almost everyone is gone.
What to do? Shopping! Typical. Forget about food. Forget about water. It's in the malls that they discover the reality of the post-apocalyptic life, that some people survive that are only half baked. And they are not really happy about it.
Realism Factor: 3 out of 10
Movie Quality: 4 out of 10 (only because who wouldn't want to have 99% of the planet to yourself)
Doomsday takes place in Britain. Scotland has been quarantined by a deadly virus. When said virus is discovered in London, a team of military 'supposed' bad-asses is sent across the wall that isolates Scotland to look for known survivors to figure out if there is a cure to the virus.
The film touches on some common themes, in terms of cannibalism, organized groups of survivors, life without technology. The acting is pretty bad, but at least Rhona Mitra is nice to look at as the lead character for most of the movie. It also gave us a great catchphrase to consider when society eventually fails: First we're gonna catch 'em, then we're gonna cook 'em, then we're gonna eat 'em. Avoid all big groups in the post-apocalyptic world, friends.
Realism Factor: 6 out of 10
Movie Quality: 5 out of 10
Cherry 2000 (1987)
Another 80's guilty pleasure, Cherry 2000 follows the plight of a man whose female sex android has had a meltdown. An older version that is no longer available in modern society, he sets off into the wasteland to find a cache of these older models.
Accompanied by Melanie Griffiths, he encounters all manner of post-apocalyptic obstacles along the way. Not a great movie in the genre, but one of those really bad movies that forces you to watch it anyway.
Realism Factor: 3 out of 10
Movie Quality: 3 out of 10
Which is the Best Post-Apocalyptic Movie/Show?
Other Best Of Movies Lists
JOC (author) from Syracuse, NY on June 22, 2014:
George Greene Jr. from California PA on June 22, 2014:
Got to agree Night of the Comet is a shoo-in for this list! And NathaNater is correct in adding Planet of the Apes and Escape from New York! Haven't seen the entire list, but what is listed is all good picks! Great Hub and up-voted!!
JOC (author) from Syracuse, NY on May 19, 2014:
Yeah, they are all excellent.
NathaNater on May 19, 2014:
I love all of those Mad Max movies. I was surprised to see Night of the Comet on the list, it's one of my favorites; good to see someone else knows about it.
These are exactly my kind of movie. I like the dystopia stuff, like Escape from New York, Planet of the Apes and Mad Max.