Since the beginning of time (or since humans have been able to write, at least) people have been obsessed with the idea of the end of the world. As far back as 66 A.D., when a Jewish sect called the Essenes declared that Jesus’ second coming was imminent, religious and cultural groups have been predicting the apocalypse. Sometimes, these predictions are based on a deity’s return, other times wars or plagues are the driving factors behind the divinations. Regardless of what they believe the initiating event will be, it’s no stretch to say that generations of people have demonstrated a morbid fascination with the destruction of earth and life as we know it.
In 2012, BBC reported that a Reuters poll found that 1 in 4 Americans believed the world would end in their lifetime. The way they believed that would happen varied significantly, according to a Vox report, and often had quite a bit to do with an individual’s political leanings. However, the way we cope with these grim beliefs is more universal. We discuss them in our art, working through our ideas about the end times (whether genuinely held or intentionally outlandish) in various forms of media—especially in the TV shows we create.
To that end, Stacker rounded up 15 of the best post-apocalyptic TV shows on television over the past 50 years. To qualify, the series had to have above a 7.0 user rating on IMDb and at least 5,000 votes. Shows from before 1990 only needed 1,000 votes. From the plausible outcomes in shows like “Survivors” to the more dystopian developments as seen in “Planet of the Apes,” these shows all have something different to say about life after the end.
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