10 Apocalyptic TV Shows That Will Make You Appreciate Life
The creator of Luther, Neil Cross, has developed a new cop drama with a sci-fi twist. The six-part series, Hard Sun, is set in modern-day London, and Earth has been given a “death sentence.” In about five years, a catastrophic cosmic event will destroy the planet. Uh oh. But, the more pressing problem for the show's protagonists — a pair of cops played by Jim Sturgess (Cloud Atlas) and Agyness Deyn (Patient Zero) — is how to keep people in line if there’s nothing to lose.
The BBC One/Hulu co-production has already premiered in the U.K. and is now available to stream in the U.S. via Hulu.
These Armageddon scenarios are endlessly engrossing. And, being fiction and all, once a series is done, we can breathe a collective sigh of relief and be grateful that there are no zombies waiting for us in the front yard.
Hard Sun is just the latest in a long line of sci-fi shows about life pre- or post-apocalypse. Here are 10 of our favorites.
1. Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)
In the classic sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica, the majority of the human race has been wiped out by an alien species known as Cylons. All that's left is a small civilian fleet, trying to find its way to the 13th colony, a planet otherwise known as... Earth. They're not even sure if it exists, because up until now all it's been to them is a myth, but it's their only hope for survival. You can look for familiar faces like Edward James Olmos as Admiral Adama, Jamie Bamber as his son, Captain Lee Adama, and Katee Sackhoff as military pilot, Starbuck. The series premiered on the SyFy channel and re-ran on BBC America in 2011.
You can stream Battlestar Galactica via Amazon Video.
2. Survivors (2008-2010)
If you've ever had the flu, you know just how draining it can be. But in the BBC America series, Survivors (not to be confused with the American competition-reality show Survivor), the illness actually wipes out most of the population. A small group (made up of Julie Graham, Max Beesley, Paterson Joseph) find they have an immunity to the virus, so they figure out how to manage without electricity, running water — and any sort of social order.
Survivors is available for streaming at Amazon Video.
3. The Walking Dead (2010-2018)
The hugely popular AMC show The Walking Dead is in its eighth season and is confirmed for a ninth in 2019. While the show itself is long-running (2010-now), the characters are living on borrowed time. The world is in ruins, overrun by "walkers" (zombies, basically, although no one on the show ever calls them that) who the (human) cast need to fight to survive. Their ranks are constantly being depleted and restocked, but some regulars include leader Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs). The storylines have varied throughout the years, examining a range of issues one might face after a zombie apocalypse, but the one common thread we can always count on is: man vs. the undead.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC and can also be found via Netflix.
4. Outcasts (2010)
By 2060, the Earth has been so used and abused, it's become uninhabitable, and humans are forced to find another home. The outcasts seek refuge on a distant planet — only accessible by undertaking a five-year spaceship voyage — where they have to start over. The series stars Liam Cunningham, Hermione Norris, Amy Manson, Daniel Mays, and Ashley Walters.
You can find Outcasts over at Amazon Video.
5. You, Me and the Apocalypse (2015)
The British-American series You, Me and the Apocalypse first aired in the U.K. in 2015, followed by its release stateside in early 2016. The story revolves around a group of people shuffled underground to safety, where they watch the apocalypse on TV. There's a comet heading straight to Earth, and this small group is watching it from a safe distance — or, so we're led to believe... The series stars Mathew Baynton, Jenna Fischer, Rob Lowe, Megan Mullally, Joel Fry, and Gaia Scodellaro.
You, Me and the Apocalypse is available via Amazon Video.
6. The Last Man on Earth (2015-2018)
Will Forte plays Phil Miller, the last man on Earth. It's been two years since a virus wiped out most humans — and also that long since Phil has seen another person. That kind of isolation could really get to you.... Slowly but surely, Phil starts to discover there are others like him, and they form a little posse (Kristen Schaal, January Jones, Mel Rodriguez). And, as people do, they start to get annoyed with each other. Sigh. Can't live with people on Earth; can't live without people on Earth.
You can find The Last Man on Earth over at Hulu.
7. 12 Monkeys (2015-2018)
Loosely based on the 1995 film by the same name, which starred Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt and Madeleine Stowe, the TV series 12 Monkeys follows a similar storyline. James Cole, played by Aaron Stanford this time around, travels back in time to stop a deadly virus released in 2015. He learns of the outbreak after hearing a warning, recorded by Dr. Cassie Railly (Amanda Schull). In the fourth episode, called “Atari,” we see Cole travel back and forth between 2043 and 2015, getting a look at post- and pre-apocalypse in one swoop.
12 Monkeys is available for streaming via Amazon Video.
8. Z Nation (2014-2018)
Z Nation starts off three years after an outbreak, which turned those infected into zombies. There’s only one human (Keith Allan) who survived the plague untouched, due to a vaccine he had been given prior to the zombie apocalypse. The plan is to get him to a lab where he can donate his blood.
You can stream Z Nation via Amazon Video.
9. The Handmaid's Tale (2017)
The Handmaid's Tale may not jump off the page as being apocalyptic. But, in the Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel, starring Elisabeth Moss in the title role, the majority of the population is deemed sterile and are no longer able to reproduce. So, if we've done the math correctly, this dystopian story is in fact pre-apocalyptic... since it appears the world is in danger of running out of people. The powers-that-be take fertile women hostage with the plan to impregnate them. If the pregnancy is a success, the mother gives up her child to her captor and... does it again for another family-to-be. This is clearly unethical, but in addition to that, solely looking at the statistics: a handful of women giving birth every nine months or so does not seem like an efficient way to populate an entire planet. So, yep, we reckon there's an apocalypse on the way.
You can find The Handmaid's Tale over at Hulu.
10. Snowpiercer (2018)
And, finally, there's a new apocalypse-themed TV series coming out later this year, and it looks fantastic. The 2013 sci-fi/action film Snowpiercer is being adapted for TV, with Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson acting as showrunner. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world. Almost all life on Earth has been killed off by an experiment designed to stop global warming, which instead kick-started a new ice age. But there are a few survivors living on a rocket-fast train that never stops moving. As the isolated community circles the globe, with the passengers unable get off, a class system develops. The series will star Jennifer Connelly (Spider-Man Homecoming), Daveed Diggs (Hamilton), and Katie McGuinness (The Borgias).
You can look for Snowpiercer on TNT later this year.
Are you feeling a little doom and gloom after going through the above clips and synopses? Well, don't! Apocalypse TV should be more of a lift-me-up, actually. Because, as far as we know, we aren't facing the end of the world any time soon. For now, let's just thank our lucky stars (big shout out to our own sun!), that there's solid ground under our feet and no zombie virus on the horizon.
Are you feeling a little more appreciative of our zombie-free, non-apocalyptic world?