10 Best Post-Apocalyptic TV Shows of All Time – News Today

10 Best Post-Apocalyptic TV Shows of All Time

The post-apocalyptic genre is one of the most popular genre is recent years. There are countless shows that are amazing and well worth watching.

The Walking Dead, The Last of Us and Station Eleven

Although author Mary Shelley is recognized as the first modern sci-fi novelist, few people know that she also birthed the post-apocalyptic subgenre with her dystopian novel The Last Man (1826). The movie industry only began making post-apocalyptic stories much later. That said, television has also given viewers some inventive stories about survivors coming to terms with living on a destroyed Earth.

The best post-apocalyptic TV shows often have creative ideas for presenting their take on the subgenre. Whether it be zombies, aliens, or some other unexplainable disaster, these series succeed in balancing character dynamics, intimidating threats, and bleak yet visually stunning environments. From popular series like The Last of Us and The Walking Dead to underrated gems like Jericho and Falling Skies, these are the best post-apocalyptic TV shows on the small screen.

Updated on January 30, 2024, by Ajay Aravind: Post-apocalyptic television has seen a boom in recent years, in part due to real-world fears about environmental disasters and nuclear devastation. Whatever the case may be, there are a few shows that manage to capture both the terrors of the apocalypse and the resilience of humanity. As such, we’ve updated this article with some more relevant information.

10 The Walking Dead Has Now Become A Sprawling Zombie Franchise

Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma to learn the world is in ruins and must lead a group of survivors to stay alive.

Release Date
October 31, 2010
Cast
Andrew Lincoln , Norman Reedus , Melissa McBride , Lauren Cohan , Christian Serratos , josh mcdermitt , Danai Gurira , Seth Gilliam
Seasons
11
Creator
Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore
Main Genre
Horror
Network
AMC
Franchise(s)
The Walking Dead

 

IMDb Score 8.1
Streaming Platforms Netflix & AMC

Rick Grimes and Michonne kissing on The Walking Dead

From their Season 3 rivalry to a passionate marriage, Rick Grimes and Michonne’s relationship has come a long way in The Walking Dead universe.

As the longest-running post-apocalyptic show on television, The Walking Dead’s impact can still be felt today with the franchise it has since spawned. Based on Robert Kirkman’s comic book series, the AMC show followed a survivor group as they stayed alive against the threat of zombie hordes and vile humans. The Walking Dead soon became a staple in the zombie subgenre of horror. The makeup and effects for the zombies had great detail, while the worldbuilding felt eerily realistic.

The fantastic ensemble cast had well-developed characters played amazingly by actors who received more recognition after appearing on the show – including Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, and Steven Yeun. While the show ran out of steam in its final seasons, The Walking Dead‘s stories have continued in numerous spin-off shows, including Dead CityThe World Beyond, and The Ones Who Live.

9 The Strain Utilizes Vampires To Create Its Post-Apocalyptic World

The Strain TV show poster

A mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism ravages the city of New York.

 

Release Date
July 13, 2014
Creator
Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Cast
Corey Stoll , David Bradley , Mia Maestro , Kevin Durand
Seasons
4
Number of Episodes
46
IMDb Score 7.3
Streaming Platforms Hulu

When people think of post-apocalyptic stories, they don’t usually think of vampires taking over the world. However, The Strain takes the unthinkable idea and effectively utilizes it. The show follows a CDC team as they work to contain a viral outbreak that turns its victims into vampiric creatures. The virus spreads to the point where a war wages between the vampires and the remaining survivors. Co-creator and producer Guillermo del Toro is known to create frightening creatures in his works, and the terrifying vampires here are no exception.

With remarkable creature effects and tons of bloody action, The Strain makes for an engaging post-apocalyptic horror show that deserves more attention. Although the middle seasons received lukewarm ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, the fourth and final season was praised. The critics’ consensus states that “The Strain concludes on a high note with a climactic season that will remind viewers of the series’ initial bite.”

8 The Last Ship Is An Action-Packed Blockbuster For The Small Screen

The Last Ship poster
The Last Ship

The crew of a naval destroyer is forced to confront the reality of a new existence when a pandemic kills off most of the earth’s population.

 

Release Date
June 22, 2014
Creator
Steven Kane and Hank Steinberg
Cast
Eric Dane , Rhona Mitra , Adam Baldwin , Charles Parnell
Seasons
5
Number of Episodes
56
IMDb Score 7.4
Streaming Platforms Max & Prime Video (Max Bundle)

Those looking for intense, action-packed blockbusters fit for the small screen found plenty to admire in The Last Ship. This post-apocalyptic TV show is a loose adaptation of William Brinkley’s eponymous 1988 novel. Starring Eric Dane and produced by Michael Bay, the show follows a naval ship crew who discover that most of the world’s population has died of a dangerous virus.

As a result, the crew and the scientists on board work to develop a cure while facing off against powerful foreign enemies. The Last Ship offered plenty of firefights and explosions on land and sea to satisfy action fans while showcasing how the world tried to rebuild itself after a cataclysmic event. While the first couple of seasons were initially about stopping the virus, the show later introduced new threats like corrupt governments, dying farm crops, and cyber-attacks.

7 Into The Badlands Incorporates Martial Artistry Into Dystopian Fiction

Into the Badlands
Into the Badlands

A mighty warrior and a young boy with supernatural powers search for enlightenment in a ruthless post-apocalyptic America controlled by feudal barons.

 

Release Date
November 15, 2015
Cast
Daniel Wu , Orla Brady , Sarah Bolger , Aramis Knight
Seasons
3
Number of Episodes
32
Network
AMC
IMDb Score 7.9
Streaming Platforms N/A
Into The Badlands: Things You Never Knew About The Black Lotus

With all the action and mayhem on screen, it may have been hard to piece together the full story of who they are and what they represent.

Martial arts in a post-apocalyptic world sounds outlandish, but AMC’s Into the Badlands successfully combines the two elements to create a fun and thrilling series. Set a few centuries in the future, the series follows a warrior named Sunny as he mentors a teenage boy in a feudal civilization known as the Badlands. However, this adolescent isn’t as ordinary as he initially appears, and there are forces at play who want to exploit him.

Into the Badlands remains an underrated action series, but fans have lots of praise for the creativity that goes into it. Because the show’s characters are reliant on melee weaponry like swords and knives instead of firearms, it paves the way for brilliantly choreographed and filmed fight sequences. Along with the impressive action, the show is inventive with its colorful visuals and astounding lore to keep it exciting.

6 Jericho Provides Intensity And High Stakes In Each Episode

Jericho
Jericho

A small town in Kansas is literally left in the dark after seeing a mushroom cloud over nearby Denver, Colorado. The townspeople struggle to find answers about the blast and solutions on how to survive.

 

Release Date
September 20, 2006
Cast
Skeet Ulrich , Lennie James , Ashley Scott , Kenneth Mitchell
Seasons
2
Production Company
CBS Paramount Network Television
Number of Episodes
29
IMDb Score 7.9
Streaming Platforms Paramount+ & Prime Video (Paramount+ Bundle)

When the residents of the titular Kansas town witnessed a nuclear mushroom cloud in the sky, they became cut off from the rest of the world. As they worked together to find what caused the nuclear attack on several American cities, they faced several obstacles. From dwindling supplies to unwelcome outsiders, it took everything just to keep their town alive. Jericho provided intensity and high stakes in each episode as the characters adjusted to their stressful situation.

The series had viewers invested in what happened next, but not enough to keep it going for several seasons. Despite surviving a cancelation after Season 1, the show got canceled again after a shortened Season 2. Jericho lost its chance to expand its potential further, but its fans agreed it was worth watching. However, there are comic book series that continue the story that would have appeared in Seasons 3 and 4.

5 The 100 Appeals To The Teen Demographic As Well As Sci-Fi Fans

The 100 TV Show Poster
The 100

Set 97 years after a nuclear war destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth, hoping to repopulate the planet.

 

Release Date
March 19, 2014
Cast
Eliza Taylor , Bob Morley , Marie Avgeropoulos , Isaiah Washington
Seasons
7
IMDb Score 7.6
Streaming Platforms Netflix

Set after a nuclear apocalypse leaves Earth inhabitable for almost a century, the last of humanity lives in slowly dying space stations. To prevent themselves from going extinct, they establish an experiment to return to the planet. One hundred juvenile prisoners get sent to Earth to see if it is habitable again. However, an encounter with tribes of people whose ancestors survived the nuclear attack will determine the human race’s survival.

As a sci-fi show on the CW, The 100 appeals to both teenage demographics and science fiction fans. As the characters grow and learn to adapt to the transformed Earth, they face off against a new threat each season, including warrior armies, artificial intelligence, violent criminals, and increasing radiation. While fans agree that the sci-fi series loses its spark in later seasons, The 100 still had an impressive seven-season run.

4 Falling Skies’ Fast-Paced Storylines Kept Viewers Intrigued And Invested

Falling Skies
Falling Skies
Release Date
June 19, 2011
Cast
Noah Wyle , Moon Bloodgood , Drew Roy , Jessy Schram , Maxim Knight
Seasons
5
Number of Episodes
52
IMDb Score 7.1
Streaming Platforms Max & Prime Video (Max Bundle)

TNT offered small-screen blockbuster entertainment with its summer programming, and Falling Skies was one of the network’s biggest selling points. Starring Noah Wyle and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, the show presented the aftermath of an alien invasion that destroyed most of Earth in the span of six months. A resistance group called the 2nd Massachusetts would subsequently wage war against the aliens to take back the planet.

With each of its five seasons comprised of only 10-12 episodes, Falling Skies allowed for fast-paced storylines to keep viewers intrigued. The show also had explosive action sequences, stellar special effects, and other associated science fiction elements for genre fans. Falling Skies mixed its dark tone with hopeful moments for humanity, providing a fresh take on the alien invasion story. The show was also honored at the first Critics’ Choice Television Awards for Most Exciting New Series.

3 The Last Man On Earth Weaves Comedy Into Its Post-Apocalyptic Narrative

The Last Man on Earth
The Last Man on Earth

Almost two years after a virus wiped out most of the human race, Phil Miller only wishes for some company, but soon gets more than he bargained for when that company shows up in the form of other survivors.

Release Date
March 1, 2015
Cast
Will Forte , Kristen Schaal , January Jones , Mel Rodriguez
Seasons
4
Number of Episodes
67
Network
FOX
IMDb Score 7.4
Streaming Platforms Hulu

Not every post-apocalyptic movie has to be serious, as demonstrated by 2013’s This Is The End. Similarly, The Last Man on Earth is an excellent example of how to make a comedic TV show in otherwise bleak circumstances. After a virus seemingly wiped out the entire population, Phil Miller — played by Will Forte — feared he was the only human left on Earth. However, after encountering a female survivor, he learned he was truly not alone.

Forte made for a hilarious lead as Phil, balancing the character’s loneliness with the right amount of humor. The show also had a great supporting cast by his side, including Kristen Schaal, January Jones, and Jason Sudeikis. Thanks to consistently funny writing, the show kept its audience entertained. Unfortunately, The Last Man on Earth got canceled after four seasons, which caused fans to demand a proper ending.

2 The Last Of Us Is One Of The Best Video Game Adaptations To Grace Television

The Last Of Us TV Show Poster
The Last Of Us

After a global pandemic destroys civilization, a hardened survivor takes charge of a 14-year-old girl who may be humanity’s last hope.

Release Date
January 15, 2023
Creator
Neil Druckmann, Craig Mazin
Cast
Pedro Pascal , Bella Ramsey , Anna Torv , lamar johnson
Seasons
2
IMDb Score 8.8
Streaming Platforms Max & Prime Video (Max Bundle)
Split Images of Ashley Johnson, Troy Baker, and Merle Dandridge Last of us Cast
Every The Last Of Us Voice Actor Who Cameoed In The Show

A few voice actors who worked on The Last of Us games also appeared in the HBO show, including Ashley Johnson and Merle Dandridge.

The Last of Us fans hoped that the HBO adaptation of the beloved game didn’t fall under the video game adaptation curse. Thankfully, the series exceeded their expectations and took the world by storm in early 2023. Set 20 years after a viral outbreak, protagonist Joel Miller has to deliver a girl named Ellie across a destroyed America in the hopes of developing a solution for the fungus-based apocalypse. Everything that made The Last of Us game so immersive was heavily incorporated into the TV show.

The mismatched pairing of Joel and Ellie grew into a lovable duo over time, thanks to the endearing chemistry between Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsay. The creature effects for the Clickers and other infected creatures were astounding yet terrifying, and the series had several emotional scenes that made viewers cry many tears. Unfortunately, fans will have to wait until 2025 for the second season.

1 Station Eleven Balances Horrifying Circumstances With Powerful Performances

Station Eleven
Station Eleven

A post apocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines, telling the stories of survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost.

 

Release Date
December 16, 2021
Creator
Patrick Somerville
Cast
Mackenzie Davis , Himesh Patel , David Wilmot , Matilda Lawler
Main Genre
Drama
Seasons
1
Story By
Emily St. John Mandel
Number of Episodes
10
IMDb Score 7.6
Streaming Platforms Max & Prime Video (Max Bundle)

Emily St. John Mandel’s sci-fi novel Station Eleven hooked readers, and the book eventually received a worthy TV adaptation. The MAX (formerly HBO Max) miniseries presented a flu pandemic that wiped out most of the human race. The series switches between the present, where characters get stuck in shelters, and the future where traveling performers attempt to spread hope through their theatrics.

Station Eleven is a beautiful post-apocalyptic show that balances horrifying circumstances with strong character development and acting performances, especially Mackenzie Davis and Himesh Patel. Because Station Eleven aired around the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic, people were nervous to give it a watch. Those who did tune in were rewarded with an emotionally and thematically moving series.

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