Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

The end is nigh! Here are some of the best post-apocalyptic TV shows

While the theme of the end of the world has been a common one with movies for decades, it is now becoming more popular on the small screen, with TV series of all kinds depicting what life might be like after Earth as we know it is gone.

Whether it’s aliens or androids that have taken over, zombies, viruses, or religious theocracies, there is one common theme among all of these shows: Things have gone horribly, horribly wrong for humanity, and someone or a group of people are tasked with saving it.

Looking for a show that tells a really compelling post-apocalyptic tale in a unique and original way? Here are some worth checking out and where you can stream them.

When you’re done bookmarking some of these shows to watch and you’re in the mood for something else, check out the best shows to binge-watch on Netflix right now, the 53 best shows on Amazon Prime right now, and the 52 best shows on Hulu right now.

Snowpiercer on Netflix

Snowpiercer

Based on the Bong Joon-ho film of the same name from 2013, which was, in turn, based on the 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette, this post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller continues to tell the story of a group of survivors traveling endlessly around what’s left of the world on a massive train (1,001 cars long) known as Snowpiercer. As they continuously loop the globe, which became a giant frozen wasteland seven years prior, they deal with some of the same issues on board as they did in the real world, including class warfare and social injustice.

Created by: Josh Friedman, Graeme Manson
Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Daveed Diggs, Mickey Sumner, Alison Wright, Iddo Goldberg, Susan Park, Katie McGuinness, Sam Otto, Sheila Vand, Mike O’Malley, Annalise Basso, Jaylin Fletcher, Lena Hall, Roberto Urbina
Number of seasons: 1

Raised by Wolves

Raised by Wolves

Ridley Scott directed the first two episodes of this sci-fi drama and also serves as an executive producer. When Earth is destroyed by a great war, two androids must raise and care for a group of human children. But, much like in the world that preceded this one, religious differences threaten to wreak havoc on peace and unity. And the androids realize that it isn’t easy to control humans and their inherent belief systems.

Created by: Aaron Guzikowski
Cast: Amanda Collin, Abubakar Salim, Winta McGrath, Niamh Algar, Travis Fimmel, Jordan Loughran, Felix Jamieson, Ethan Hazzard, Aasita Shah, Ivy Wong, Matias Verela
Number of seasons: 1

Watch on HBO Max
Adventure Time on Hulu

Adventure Time

Yes, even animated series take on the premise of a post-apocalyptic world. In this fantasy series, a young boy named Finn and his adopted brother Jake, who happens to be a dog with magical powers, navigate the Land of Ooo after the end of the world. Based on a short story produced for Nicktoons way back in 2007, the concept was turned into a show after it went viral. Drawing inspiration from various role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, the series has been well-reviewed and a ratings hit, landing itself in the world of streaming.

Created by: Pendleton Ward
Cast: Jeremy Shada, John DiMaggio, Hyden Walch, Niki Yang, Tom Kenny, Olivia Olson, Pendleton Ward, Polly Lou Livingston, Jessica DiCicco
Number of seasons: 10

Watch on HBO Max Watch on Hulu

Battlestar Galactica on Peacock

Battlestar Galactica

An oldie but a goodie, this military sci-fi series that aired back in the early 2000s was a re-imagining of the 1978 series of the same name. Widely considered to be one of the best series of all time, it is set in the distant future where Earth as we know it ceases to exist and humans have colonized a group of planets known as the Twelve Colonies. Now under attack by an android race they created called the Cylons, humanity must fight to survive. Peacock has plans to launch a continuation of the series, deciding on a new story set in the same world versus a reboot and produced by Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot, Homecoming).

Created by: Gel A. Larson
Cast: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, Michael Hogan, Aaron Douglas, Tahmoh Penikett, Paul Campbell, Nicki Clyne
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Peacock
12 Monkeys on Hulu

12 Monkeys

Loosely adapted from the 1995 film of the same name starring Brad Pitt, this sci-fi mystery drama focuses on the concept of time travel. The Army of the 12 Monkeys is working to end the world with a deadly virus that, if it isn’t stopped, will kill seven billion people in 2017 and continue to mutate until it wipes out the entire human race. Two individuals, James Cole and Dr. Cassandra “Cassie” Railly, must join forces to travel back and forth through time, from 2043 to 2015, to try to stop the 12 Monkeys before the virus is released.

Created by: Terry Matalas, Travis Fickett (based on La Jetee by Chris Marker, 12 Monkeys by David Peoples, Janet Peoples)
Cast: Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull, Kirk Acevedo, Noah Bean, Todd Stashwick, Emily Hampshire, Barbara Sukowa
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Hulu
The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu

The Handmaid’s Tale

This award-winning Hulu series confines the dire situation to Gilead, an authoritarian, theocratic empire encompassing much of what was once the United States, where women are forced into sexual servitude to bear children for oligarchical couples. Women are banned from owning property, handling money, or even reading, with harsh punishments meted out to anyone who defies the laws. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a sharp and brutal regression to an existence in which religious fanaticism reigns supreme and humans are treated like property.

Created By: Bruce Miller
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, O.T. Fagbenie, Max Minghella, Samira Wiley, Amanda Brugel, Bradley Whitford
Number of Seasons: 3

Watch on Hulu
The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Call them what you want — zombies, walkers, biters, eaters, or roamers — but a virus has created shambling, undead creatures in AMC’s hit series with one mission: To feed on human flesh. Set around perhaps the most popularized apocalyptic scenario, the show follows a small group of survivors as they’re forced to band together and fend off evil on all fronts in an attempt to rebuild society. All too often, however, the survivors find that in such desperate times, the living are sometimes a more dangerous enemy than the dead.

Created by: Frank Darabont (based on The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard)
Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeon, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Michael Rooker, and others
Number of seasons: 10

Watch on Netflix
The Rain on Netflix

The Rain

In this Danish series, a virus distributed via raindrops has wiped out almost all of Scandinavia. Siblings who survived in a bunker search for any signs of life, and while doing so, encounter other young survivors. Interestingly, they discover that even with little sign of life, many of the same challenges and emotional experiences they would have endured in a pre-apocalyptic world still exist in this disastrous situation.

Created by: Jannik Tai Mosholt, Esben Toft Jacobsen, Christian Potalivo
Cast: Alba August, Lucas Lynhggaard Tonnesen, Mikkel Folsgaard, Lukas Lokken, Jessica Dinnage, Sonny Lindberg, Angela Bundalovic, Natalie Madueno, Clara Rosager, Evin Ahmad, Johannes Bah Kuhnke, Rex Leonard
Number of seasons: 3

Watch on Netflix

Mr. Robot, best post-apocalyptic TV shows

Mr. Robot

Surely the takedown of one multi-national conglomerate can’t mark the end of an entire society, right? In this USA Network series, a sophisticated hack of a company, with its hands in everything from national banks to consumer credit, the manufacturing of tech devices, and various other facets of modern existence, singlehandedly leads to the devastation of society. Shops close, family savings are lost, people riot and loot, and the populace all-too-suddenly resorts to violent crime in the streets as they try and cope with the downfall. Life still seemingly goes on as E Corp (or as the hacker played by series star Rami Malek calls it, “Evil Corp”) tries to persist. But the dangers of not being able to rebuild threaten a collapsing world economy. And a secret conspiracy threatens life as we know it.

Created by: Sam Esmail
Cast: Rami Malek, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallstrom, Christian Slater, Michael Cristofer, Stephanie Corneliussen, Grace Gummer, BD Wong, Bobby Cannavale, Ashlie Atkinson, Elliot Villar
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Amazon Prime
Black Mirror, best post-apocalyptic TV shows on Netflix

Black Mirror

This entire series foreshadows situations where technological development can go terribly wrong and lead to a scary new way of life. One episode in particular, however, shows a truly apocalyptic scenario whereby robotic “dogs” have taken over the world following the collapse of human society. Filmed entirely in black and white, the fourth-season episode Metalhead is an ominous look at the story of a woman’s desperate attempt to survive an attack from the four-legged artificial intelligence.

Created by: Charlie Brooker
Cast: Various
Number of seasons: 5

Watch on Netflix
The Last Man on Earth

The Last Man on Earth

The only comedic series on the list, The Last Man on Earth casts Will Forte as Philip Tandy Miller, a man who thinks he is literally the last man on earth after a deadly virus wipes out almost all of humanity. Spoiler: He eventually finds others, and they work together to try and repopulate society, despite constantly irritating one another. While the series was canceled, its fourth and final season aired in early 2018.

Created by: Will Forte
Cast: Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, January Jones, Mel Rodriguez, Cleopatra Coleman, Mary Steenburgen
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Hulu
The 100 on Netflix

The 100

A nuclear war has destroyed civilization, but a group of adolescents is sent back to Earth from an orbiting space station in order to test the planet’s ability to sustain life and start civilization anew. Oh, and they’re all juvenile prisoners, so … drama ensues. Upon the survivors’ return, they quickly realize they aren’t the only humans to survive the apocalyptic events that wiped out most of humanity, and distinct groups of other survivors have formed, with some hungry for flesh and others hungry for power.

Created by: Jason Rothenbern (based on The 100 by Kass Morgan)
Cast: Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco, Thomas McDonell, Eli Goree, Marie Avgeropoulos, Bob Morley, Kelly Hu, Christopher Larkin, Devon Botstick, Isaiah Washington, and others
Number of seasons: 7

Watch on Netflix
Colony

Colony

Set in near-future L.A., mysterious extraterrestrials known as the Hosts have taken over the planet, and the human military regime known as the Transitional Authority is tasked with enforcing their will. Massive rectangular blocks have appeared from the sky, creating walls around buildings and dividing the cities. The Hosts control who can get in and out of the walls, which and separate regions of humanity. The series chronicles life after humanity is subjugated by alien invaders and the resistance that forms in the wake of their arrival.

Created by: Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal
Cast: Josh Hollyway, Sarah Wayne Callies, Peter Jacobson, Amanda Righetti, Tory Kittles, Alex Neustaedter, Isabella Crovetti, Jacob Buster
Number of seasons: 3

Watch on Netflix
3% on Netflix

3%

This Brazilian dystopian thriller was the first Portuguese-language original series for Netflix. In it, society is divided among two distinct classes: The privileged Offshore have access to superior technology, while the impoverished Inland just want to survive. Citizens can apply to join the Offshore when they turn 20, but there’s a catch: Only 3% of those who do so will get in. The other 97% of humanity must resume the perpetual struggle of life or death.

Created by: Pedro Aguilera
Cast: Joao Miguel, Bianca Comparato, Michel Gomes, Rodolfo Valente, Vaneza Oliveira, Rafael Lozana, Viviane Porto, Samuel de Assis, Cynthia Seken, and others
Number of seasons: 4

Watch on Netflix
Z Nation on Netflix

Z Nation

Z Nation puts a subtly comedic spin on the typical “life after a zombie epidemic” show. Keith Allan plays Alvin Murphy, a prison inmate who managed to survive the apocalypse by receiving a vaccine that made him immune to the otherwise fatal zombie bite. That immunity came at a cost, however, and he is slowly mutating into a sort of human-zombie hybrid, with shedding skin and the ability to control the undead but while retaining full use of his mental faculties. Joined by a group of survivors with conflicting opinions about his condition, Murphy might be humanity’s best hope for a cure.

Created by: Karl Schaefer, Craig Engler
Cast: Kellita Smith, DJ Qualls, Michael Welch, Keith Allan, Anastasia Baranova, Russell Hodgkinson, Pisay Pao, Nat Zang, and others
Number of seasons: 5

Watch on Netflix

Editors' Recommendations