Post-Apocalyptic TV Series and Shows - Enjoying the Apocalypse

The Post-Apocalyptic landscape is one of the staples of blockbuster sci-fi adventure films and, surprisingly frequently, television series, including the most current series, The Walking Dead, which features a zombified post-apocalyptic setting.

I was going to cover both films and tv in this hub, but by the time I finished, I realized that post-apocalyptic tv shows deserve a hub all of their own, so here we go. Let's survey a few entries from the tv landscape of doom and destruction.

Unfortunately, not all of them are available on DVD and it seems to me that the apocalypse doesn't make for happy fun tv watching for a lot of people, so these shows -- with a few exceptions -- tend to be short-lived.

One new thing we are now starting on tv is reality shows based on post-apocalyptic and disaster survival notions. One is called The Colony. This is a reality show much like Survivor, where you are stuck with a group of people and have to figure out how to "survive". I have not watched this show, but I believe everyone is stuck in a warehouse together someplace.

Another show which is sort of related is Surviving Disaster. This is a show that features a former Navy SEAL. Each episode runs through a disaster scenario such as earthquakes, terrorist attacks, avalances, etc. I have not watched it, but the reviews are not awesome.


The Walking Dead

Source
Guts
Guts

Missed an episode? Catch up with The Walking Dead on Amazon.

 
The Walking Dead: Season 1
The Walking Dead: Season 1

You can also now buy Season 1 of The Walking Dead on both DVD and Blu Ray.

 

The Walking Dead is an AMC series based upon the popular comic book series of the same name. I think it is a very interesting choice for AMC, which tends towards more high brow entertainment like Mad Men. But I think it is a great opportunity for both us and them. After all, if the show is on cable, it doesn't need the same kind of audience numbers that it would need on Fox. So hopefully this means that The Walking Dead will actually last a few seasons. So far, I'm quite hopeful as the first two episodes that have aired were both awesome.

If you are unfamiliar with the series, you should give it a go. At this point, as viewers, all we know is that the world has been pretty much taken over my zombies, aka The Walking Dead. Our hero, Rick, wakes up in a hospital to find things have changed a lot while he was in a coma. And if that sounds like a 28 Days Later rip-off, well yes, it will seem highly familiar at first.

If you are not watching The Walking Dead already, you seriously need to get on that! You can always catch up with the already aired episodes by getting them from Amazon's video on demand service.

Jeremiah opening credits

No More Grown-Ups

One common scenario of destruction that seems to get the most attention from tv writers is the "all the adults have died" virus. No less than three different tv shows have featured a virus that has killed every adult on the planet, leaving only the kids to rebuild society.

First up is Jeremiah, which was a Showtime series that ran from 2002-2004. Starting Luke Perry and Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Jeremiah is set 15 years after the "Big Death" that killed everyone over the age of puberty, so now most of those children who survived are in their 20s. The main story is Jeremiah's quest to find "Valhalla", the location that his parents were headed to when everyone died.

Jeremiah is a fun series with surprisingly good performances from the two leads and Sean Astin joins the cast in season 2. If you like this genre, I highly recommend this show. It was created by J. Michael Straczynski, the guy behind the greatest science fiction series every made -- Babylon 5.

Other series with a similar apocalyptic theme are 2030 CE, a Canadian children's show in which everyone over the age of 30 dies and New Zealand children's tv series, The Tribe, where all the adults were killed during a plague and now the children and teenager's must fend for themselves. The Tribe is one of those exceptions to the life expectancy of a post-apocalyptic tv series. It ran for 5 seasons with 56 episodes in each season! In the uS it frequently re-airs on the WAM channel (part of Encore package).

"Nuts" to the Apocalypse!

So have you heard of Jericho? I'm willing to bet that you have. But I bet you haven't watched it since it is cancelled... again!

Yes, Jericho is the post-apocaylptic tv show that was cancelled, rescued from cancellation by an online campaign by fans to send thousands of bags of "nuts" to CBS, and then cancelled again after it still didn't find an audience during its mid-season turn this year.

Jericho is set in in a small town in Kansas shortly after most of the major cities in the US have been nuked by an unknown enemy. Starring Skeet Ulrich as Jake Green, the prodigal son who returns home briefly only to find he can't leave after the rest of the country gets nuked.

Jericho was actually a pretty decent show with some interesting story arcs that appeared to be developing, but it wasn't nearly as good as either Jeremiah or the next show I'm going to talk about, Odyssey 5, so it doesn't surprise me that it was cancelled. I highly suspect that while we like the post-apocalypse on the big screen, most television viewers don't have a huge appetite for it. The last 7 episodes of Jericho are still sitting on my TiVo unwatched. I was pretty gung ho for it during season 1, but lost interest in the interim between its initial cancellation and comeback. Oh well. Eventually I am sure I will watch them. Probably during the summer when my other shows are on hiatus :)

Preventing the Apocalypse

In movies and tv, in particular, there's a growing sub-genre of pre-apocalyptic storytelling. Generally these are stories that give us glimpses of the results of worldwide devastation and then, through the wonders of time travel, give our heroes the opportunity to prevent the oncoming devastation.

In film, The Terminator is probably the best example of the genre. Then 12 Monkeys. And on tv, we had Odyssey 5 for one glorious season and during 2008 (and hopefully 2009!) we have the Sarah Connor Chronicles. Some might argue that Armageddon may fit into this genre as well, but as we never even glimpse the world in its destroyed state, so I don't think it quite works. Time travel of some variety seems to be a necessary element of the true Pre-Apocalyptic sub-genre.

Odyssey 5

During a Shuttle Mission, five Astronauts witness the Earth exploding. They are then sent back 5 years in time by "The Seeker" in order to prevent the destruction of the planet.

As they work to prevent the apocalypse, virtually everything they do makes the situation worse and actually speeds up the timeline so instead of knowing they have five years to fix everything, they change events in such a way that they have no idea how much time they really have left.

Starring Peter Weller as Chuck Taggart (my favorite Weller character ever) and Christopher Gorham as his son, Neil -- Odyssey 5 is one of the best sf tv series I've ever seen and, sadly, it barely lasted a season on Showtime. But you can pick it up on DVD and it occasionally re-airs on the SciFi or Spike channels in the US and, I think, on Space in Canada.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

The Sarah Connor Chronicles essentially picks up where Terminator 2 left off, studiously ignoring the theme of T3 which is that the past is fixed and can't be changed. One of the things I love most about The Sarah Connor Chronicles is that we get to see far more of the future after Skynet than we have in any of the movies to date. In the movies we never saw more than teasing glimpses of what the future looked like after the machines turned on us, but the tv show has multiple characters crossing over from the future so we get to see a variety of flash-forwards.

Thomas Dekker stars as a really terrific John Connor. I've been really pleased with how John is being played throughout season 1. He's still a teenager, but starting to think for himself and insisting on making decisions that don't necessarily match what his strong-willed mother thinks is right. Lena Headey plays Sarah Connor. And Summer Glau plays the Terminator sent back from the future to protect John. They are both adequate, but not particularly note-worthy in my opinion.

The real break-out performance is delivered by Brian Austin Green (I can't believe I just typed that) as Kyle Reese's brother, Derek. It's insane just how much energy and excitement he brings to the show and partly it is by virtue of who he is playing, the brother of a much beloved character, but mostly it is simply that Green really delivers a great performance. I LOVE Derek and I love his relationship with John.

I really really hope this show comes back for a second season, but if it doesn't I will be able to console myself watching Christian Bale play John Connor in the Terminator 4 movie *g*

Survivors

Here's a show I haven't seen, but would love to get my hands on. Survivors was a BBC series that aired in Britain back in 1975 and it ran for three series. Produced by Terry Nation, Survivors is about a group of, ummm, survivors of a plague that wipes out 95% of humanity.

The series has such a cult following that the BBC announced late last year that they are planning to remake it -- so hopefully we'll see something in the next year or two. While, sadly, it isn't available on DVD in the US, you can buy region 2 DVDs of the series from Amazon UK.

I'm pretty enthusiastic about the idea of a remake since I've never been impressed by 70s BBC stuff like Doctor Who, but I sure love the new iteration of this show and suspect the success of Who and Torchwood are probably why the BBC is considering a new version of Survivors.

Updated: Season 1 of the new version of Survivors has already aired and they are now working on Season 2. The series is EXCELLENT. One of the best I've seen in this genre. I highly recommend that you get a hold of it, if possible.

TV Movies of the Week

In addition to the several post-apocalyptic regular series that have run, we've also been treated to a variety of TV Movies of the Week and a mini-series here and there.

Nuclear Attack from "The Day After"

The Day After, Threads and Testament

I don't know what kind of Kool-aid we were all drinking in the 80s, but apparently we were all worried that the world was going to end by nuke because there were several tv movies on the topic and these weren't your light-hearted "plague has killed all our parents, but we can rebuild society" type stuff. Nope, this was certifiably depressing, "I think I'll go kill myself before the nukes come and we all die of radiation poisoning" type stuff.

Fun. Not.

All three of these television movies were released the same year, 1983, and I can remember watching this crap and crying over it. Threads, in particular, is really just awfully depressing. I actually don't recommend any of these if you're into this genre for the escapism *g*

Check out the Flick Filospher for a great write-up on the three of them.

The Stand Opening Credits

The Stand Mini-Series

I have issues with the mini-series of The Stand, but they got a lot of things right, especially this opening credits crawl with "Don't Fear the Reaper" playing. Hahha! Okay, they definitely got some things right. I particularly liked the casting of Larry (Adam Storke), one of my favorite character's from the book and I think Rob Lowe worked pretty well as Nick. The scenes in New York were great, but I thought the exit through the Lincoln Tunnel could have been scarier. In the book, it is positively terrifying. I think that chapter is only truly terrifying thing Stephen King has ever written.

I think I would like the series much more if they had chosen different actors to play both Stu Redman and Randall Flagg. Neither Gary Sinise nor Jamey Sheridan worked for me at all in either role. Gary just didn't have the right kind of presence for me, and Jamey was neither charismatic nor scary enough to be playing The DEVIL.


Okay, I think that's a wrap for tv, but I'm almost certain there's stuff missing. So if you have any favorites let me know.

If you haven't had the chance, be sure to check out my hub on Post-Apocalyptic Books, Post Apocalyptic Video Games and my hub on post-apocalyptic movies. Yay!

More by this Author


So what did I miss? 49 comments

jonixk profile image

jonixk 8 years ago from Lisbon

This is a great hub! I love this type of series. Thank for sharing it with us.


kerryg profile image

kerryg 8 years ago from USA

Ooh, great collection of shows here! You're right, I haven't watched Jericho, although I followed the nuts campaign with interest, since my current can't-miss show, Supernatural, is perpetually on the bubble.

I also really want to watch TSCC, because I really like Glau and Headey, but if you can believe it, I've never seen ANY of the Terminator movies (I seem to have inherited a Schwarzenegger aversion from my mother) and I don't know if I'd get anything out of it.

My curent favorite post-apocalyptic anything is Battlestar Galactica. They've made some iffy dramatic choices over the seasons, and I'm still not convinced the whole thing isn't being made up as they go, possibly under the influence of heavy drugs, but I am enjoying the ride (and attached to the characters) too much to care.


embitca profile image

embitca 8 years ago from Boston Author

BSG! I knew I was forgetting something. I wasn't sure whether to include it here or not because while it is post-apocalyptic, it is another planet and not earth. I should probably include it anyway though. I do love Battlestart Galactica, but like you, they have annoyed me with some of their decisions. And I'm not happy at all about the sidelining of Apollo. And Starbuck gets on my nerves. But I love Helo and Baltar and Six (in her various incarnations) and I'm very curious as to where the Cylon stuff is going. The humans I don't really care about so much :)

You should watch Terminator 2 and then watch TSCC. You'd be able to follow it then no problem and Terminator 2 is really the best movie of the three. I actually think there's enough backstory in the tv series to follow anyway, but T2 would really flesh things out a bit more (although the first movie would help you appreciate the attachment to Kyle better). It is also a GREAT movie and you really should watch it.

I love Supernatural! I hope it does not get cancelled. It is such a fun show, with great music and pretty boys! I'm a Dean girl all the way *g*


kerryg profile image

kerryg 8 years ago from USA

That's exactly the sort of advice I needed to hear about T2. Anything to minimize the Gov and maximize the girls! *g*

Yeah, I was so happy to hear SPN will get a fourth season, though I suspect it means we'll get a doozie of a cliffhanger. I loved the OMGWTFTRUCK, though, so I won't really be objecting! I think I'd go so far as to say it has the best soundtrack on TV, even, and the boys are to die for, too. I started out a Deangirl, but became hopelessly bi-bro somewhere around Something Wicked.


Adam 8 years ago

What about the 1981 BBC classic The Day of the Triffids. Ok, no apocalyptic nucular bombs but along the same lines as Survivors but with Flesh-eating plants that go on the rampage. Great stuff :)


Adam M 8 years ago

Anyone remember a BBC series in the mid 90's that was a post apocalyptic with survivors affair - tracing across the UK to find some kind of 'salvation' there is a pregnant motherly role in it which predominates.

It is bugging the hell out of me that I can't remember more but i LOVED it! Any help would be much appreciated. AM


Duppy 8 years ago

Adam M' the show is called the last train...! what about planet of the apes..?


dunstun profile image

dunstun 7 years ago from UK

You can get Survivors 1975-77 on DVD. There were originaly 3 series.


scramblingman profile image

scramblingman 7 years ago

I love Survivors. I recently rented the 3 series on dvd and it was just as good as I remembered. Although the actors did speak 'awfully posh!' The BBC have remade the show and the first series aired not so long ago. It is, I think, better than the original. Although they do follow some of the plot lines from the original, it feels fresher and the scripts seem more realistic.


rdr 7 years ago

i recall watching a movie as a kid, with just a handful of people alive apparently.. maybe in california or something.. I might be way off,but i think the story was that everyone was gone except those that committed suicide at the very same instant.. i'm dying to know what movie i'm thinking of...

It was very apocolyptic feeling, even though it was a little different...

if you have any ideas.. please email me at rsderidd@yahoo.com!

thanks!


MollyBlue profile image

MollyBlue 7 years ago

I ordered the 3 seasons of Survivors from England and it is by far the best of them all. Even though it was done in the 70's...without special effects, etc...it makes you feel like you're there. Simply amazing and also possible.

I heard something about the BBC maybe doing a remake of the Survivors series. I'll be watching for that.

Too bad about Terminator Sarah Connor Chronicles. I really liked that one.


embitca profile image

embitca 7 years ago from Boston Author

Molly, there is a remake of Survivors. Season 1 aired early this year on the BBC. It's brilliant, but I don't know if it is on DVD yet. I believe they are now working on season 2, at least I hope so!


dsandwich 7 years ago

i have also heard that there is some reality show wherein people have to "survive" in a "post apocalyptic" landscape. haven't seen it.


embitca profile image

embitca 7 years ago from Boston Author

Hey Dsandwich, yes, it's called The Colony. I haven't watched it, but it sounds fairly entertaining.


criticalbass 7 years ago

Adam M, that sounds a bit like "The Quiet Earth."

There was a very short duration comedy series where at least one of the survivors lived because his Volvo automobile protected him. Anyone recall what it was called?


Pseudonymous profile image

Pseudonymous 7 years ago

Awesome hub. I've only seen Jericho out of this lot but eager to see the rest now! Thanks


enki 7 years ago

You left off some great movies and tv series:

The Stand by Stephen King

Movie-Gabriel

Day Watch and Night Watch

Carnvivale


dunstun profile image

dunstun 6 years ago from UK

I heard they were making survivors 2 last summer in Birmingham. Don"t know when it"ll be aired though.


embitca profile image

embitca 6 years ago from Boston Author

I really hope Survivors 2 airs soon. The first series was excellent. I'll probably watch it again before they air the next one.


Trout 6 years ago

The Survivor series from the 1970's is amazing! I loved it. The new series is good too ( I was living in England last year so got to see it already)! Definitely watch both!!


MovieFreak 6 years ago

Yes, Survivors Season 2 currently airing in UK. Wonderful series. Final episode of second season will be tomorrow.


SURVIVORSLOVR 6 years ago

I GUESS BBC SURVIVORS IS NO LONGER MAKING A SEASON 3 :(


embitca profile image

embitca 6 years ago from Boston Author

Well, that stinks quite a bit considering Survivors ended on a cliff-hanger. I guess the ratings weren't good enough?


George 6 years ago

Also mini series that has to be on the list: Afterworld ... It might not seem very interesting the first 3-4 episodes but by number 10 you will be hooked ... Don't worry the episodes are about 5 minutes long ...


Courtney 6 years ago

I'm not sure if it's worth mentioning--it's kind of old--but the "Day of the Triffids" movie and it's tv series are both post apocalyptic. It is very cheesy, but still interesting to watch. The series is much better then the movie in my opinion. :)


Deke 6 years ago

How about the TV series called "The Tribe"?

IT was a TV series primarily aimed at teenagers. It is set in a hypothetical near-future in which all adults have been wiped out by a deadly virus, leaving the children of the world to fend for themselves. The show's focus is on an unnamed city inhabited by tribes of children and teenagers. It was primarily filmed in and around Wellington, New Zealand.


Bosco 6 years ago

last train was quality


Joh 5 years ago

How about the plague, a cheap remake of the stephen king book?


leo 5 years ago

please help. the name of the programme shown recently, on C4, late at night 12-4? It is cartoon style but unanimated and it is narrated. the main character wears glasses. anyone know?


Excalibur 5 years ago

New British Survivors and The Walking dead are the best post apocalyptic series of last years. I also loved Jericho but it has been cancelled in its best moment.


Sacoboy 5 years ago

There was a 6 episode show I think one BBC or some british channel called Dead set. Zombie outbreak on the set of Big Brother. It was really good. I downloaded it on a torrent site. Walking Dead is the best of the lot. I can't wait for season 2


The Jet profile image

The Jet 5 years ago from The Bay

Glad you mentioned 12 Monkeys. Loved that film. Never seen the Walking Dead. I think I wanna check it out now!


Nexis19 profile image

Nexis19 5 years ago

Excellent Hub. Apocalyptic shows are epic in general but my favorites are The walking dead and the sarah connor chronicles


embitca profile image

embitca 5 years ago from Boston Author

Nexis, those two and Survivors (the UK show) are my favorites as well.


Nexis19 profile image

Nexis19 5 years ago

they are epic. Never got around to watching survivors. Will check it out as soon as i can


Vartila 5 years ago

There was a show that I watched probably 10 years ago now, aired on Australian TV, that was about groups of kids and 'senders' who were being hunted down by, maybe the government? I remember when they were sending their eyes would go yellow.

It was set in a post apocalyptic world after a sea level rise? The intro showed sea levels rising and maybe falling? Does anyone remember this and what it was called?


BWD316 profile image

BWD316 5 years ago from Connecticut

great list of post apocalyptic movies and tv shows, I really like the walking dead and I loved the remake of BBC's Survivors! The remake of Survivors had only two seasons, i'm hoping a third season will be made but haven't heard anything yet. Jericho was great too, although like you I never finished watching it. I think i had the same amount of episodes left to watch but I just lost interest.


Dneal 5 years ago

Does anyone remember the American post apocalyptic show with the premise that they found a way to stop aging but I didn't work on everyone it de-evolved some of the population also the remaining population wore different colored jewels and could only mate with those of the same color


sudi346 5 years ago

absolutely loved survivors and jericho shame the show was cancelled.and my favourite right now is the walking dead.haven't seen jeremiah.have to get it.sounds interesting


KBEvolve profile image

KBEvolve 5 years ago from United States

A lot of great suggestions here, both in the article and in the comments. I've only seen Walking Dead so far. I'm now convinced that I may need to spread out from there.


horrorhead 4 years ago

i was looking for new series but i haves seen all these and i just wanted to say to missed out the uk zombie apocalypse and its in the bigbrother house and is called dead set!!


PassionPot 4 years ago

Please help me, there was a show on Netflix that isn't there anymore, where a virus of some sort started, and I think an old man that had gotten sick was walking out into the baseball field with a gun and the cop who he was actually friends with had to shoot him because he was about to shoot the cop? I have no idea.. but I don't remember the name of the show.


john 4 years ago

@PassionPot

That's not a show its a movie The Crazies.


PassionPot 4 years ago

Oh wow. You're right. Thank you.


renny 4 years ago

Falling skies and terra nova


ron 4 years ago

please never ever give falling skies any credit, or tera nova, a children's show. please. just stop. jeremiah, blows both out of the water

invasion, blows both out of the water, surface, same, threshold, same.


Scot 4 years ago

I remember a movie about a man that woke up to his regular routine. There was no radio show for his morning. He left for work and forund nobody around. Vehicles abandoned. A highway paint striping truck that drove off the road painting all the way. He realised he was the last man on earth. There were no dead bodys. Later in the movie he found other survivors. They realised they died the very second a scientific experiment had gone wrong and every living soul vanished from the face of the earth except them.

If anyone knows this movie please email me at whitscot@hotmail.com

Thank you


Time4a Setback 4 years ago

By dawns Early light/Miracle mile/Defcon-4 are more nuke movies


Time 4a Setback 4 years ago

And "The Road"

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