The draw of the post-apocalyptic story is getting to escape into a world where, even though society has crumbled and mankind is essentially endangered, people are surviving. Post-apocalyptic stories, despite being dreary predictions of the future, give us hope, that we can rebuild or, at the very least, survive. It’s easy to see why some people might shy away from the apocalyptic story, especially in the state of the world right now, but there’s something positive to salvage from the depressing tone of some post-apocalyptic stories. In fact, some post-apocalyptic stories have created worlds that look like a whole lot of fun to be in.
Don’t get us wrong, we don’t want the world to end — who does? — but if it had to end, there are some cool ways it could go down. Pop culture’s post-apocalyptic stories have presented us with unique worlds that take unique methods and skills to survive in them. Meaning, there’s some fun in surviving in these world, at least that’s how we the readers, viewers or players see it. Just because the end of the world can be a depressing, ever-present fear, doesn’t mean we can’t look at it positively. If the world has to end, we’d like to survive one of these 16 pop-culture apocalypses.
16. THE WALKING DEAD
Why is it that in nearly every fictional zombie apocalypse, the people experiencing said zombie apocalypse have never seen any zombie media? Meaning, why does it take them so long to figure out the whole “kill the brain” thing? Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead may not answer this question, but it does manage to give a unique spin on the classic zombie apocalypse, presenting a thrilling world to inhabit in the process.
To get a kind of “amateur psychology” on things, the zombie apocalypse as a concept in general is attractive to us because we get to kill zombies without consequences. As messed up as that sounds, you have to admit, the consequence-free violence against zombies does sound appealing. And with The Walking Dead specifically, there’s also the fun of figuring out the “rules” of the world and helping engineer a new society, sounds like a video game!
15. MAD MAX
In a world where resources are limited and, as a result, Australia has suffered socio-economic collapse, psychopaths and criminals have become war-lords and turf-bosses of the wastelands. Wandering this savage world is Max, a highly-skilled warrior who does whatever he can to survive, helping others along the way. Mad Max already has a great story, and the world is even better — harsh, but a hell of a lot of fun.
The world of Mad Max has always seemed like this huge, post-apocalyptic-themed amusement park/RPG video game, one where you can choose how you want to survive. You could choose whatever path to survival you see fit, be it an insane resource-lord or a noble desperado wandering the land. Even if death is constantly looking over your shoulder, every day in the world of Mad Max would be an insane adventure.
Speaking of video games, one of the coolest, and most unique, post-apocalyptic worlds is the expansive universe of Bethesda’s Fallout. Spanning seven games across 20 years, the Fallout series depicts an alternate America 100 years (more in later games) after nuclear war ravaged the world. What makes Fallout so unique is its alternate history and use of a retro-futurisitic ’50s-era aesthetic, giving a twist on the classic nuclear apocalypse.
Fighting the raiders and super mutants of Fallout in real life sounds dangerously fun on its own, but throw in all the RPG elements and it gets even cooler. Imagine crafting whatever weapon you can think of, gathering supplies to make your laser musket as powerful as possible while repairing some old power armor you found, using all of it to take out death claws and rad-scorpions! Yeah, count us in.
13. SAMURAI JACK
Though there was no apocalyptic event that destroyed the world of Genndy Tartakovski’s Samurai Jack, there is an apocalyptic takeover by the demon Aku. Samurai Jack was sent to the future where “Aku’s evil is law,” meaning that at some point in time, Aku enacted a hostile takeover of the world. As harsh as this post-apocalyptic world sounds, it’s got a lot of cool elements to offer.
Anything can happen in this crazy future, and pretty much everything does. There are robots, demons, warriors, aliens, monsters and a whole mess of bounty hunters that Jack faces. Being any one of the things on that list, despite eventually meeting their end at Jack’s sword, sounds so awesome! Heck, just being a shopkeeper or mechanic or any kind of skilled worker in this crazy world looks like it could be (a morbid sort of) fun! That is, if you’re willing to put up with Aku’s merciless rule.
12. ADVENTURE TIME
When Adventure Time first started airing, it wasn’t explicitly stated that it took place in a post-apocalyptic world. Heck, at first the theory that Ooo was what remained of the world after nuclear fallout was just that — a theory. As the seasons rolled on, we learned of the “mushroom wars” (in reference to the mushroom clouds of nuclear bombs) and the tragedy, mutation and magic that were birthed from the fallout.
If the show’s protagonists, Finn and Jake, have shown us anything, it’s that this world is full of adventures waiting to happen, thus the apropos title. Anything can happen in the world of Adventure Time, and living in it would be one heck of a party. You could be anything from a talking animal to a gumball machine swordsman, some strange and fantastic adventure or quest always just around the corner.
11. COWBOY BEBOP
Fans of Cowboy Bebop might forget that it’s technically a post-apocalyptic story of sorts. Though there’s very little “waste-land wandering,” there’s a reason that so much of the anime takes place on Mars and other colonized planets. In the show, ships use “astral gates” to travel between planets faster. There was an incident with the Earth gate that resulted in the destruction of the moon, bringing forth debris showers and leaving it mostly uninhabitable.
Taking more from western and noir storytelling, Cowboy Bebop doesn’t have a lot of the usual post-apocalyptic tropes, though there’s still a lot to love about the world. Walking around the multi-cultural cities of Mars and seeing the sights make being a civilian in the world appealing, and being a bounty hunter even cooler. Who wouldn’t want to chase bad guys with marital arts and a laser-armed ship?
10. JUDGE DREDD
To be fair, the only way that the dystopian, post-apocalyptic world of Judge Dredd would be fun is if you were one of the Judges, otherwise it’s a pretty crappy place to live. Ravaged by nuclear war, the world’s remaining population was forced to consolidate into mega-cities. In every mega-city are city blocks, giant buildings that house over 50,000 people. Being that cramped doesn’t sound too fun, but being a judge does.
In this chaotic, overpopulated world, violence and crime run rampant, so law enforcement has become just as condensed and as hard as the cities. The officers of this world are known as judges, and they hold the power of a police officer, judge, jury and executioner. Rocking some cool high-tech weaponry, transportation and ridiculously over-decorated costumes, being a judge sounds like the coolest job to have in such a harsh world.
9. GURREN LAGANN
After the Spiral King forced humanity to live underground through the use of beast-person-piloted robots called gunmen, and uprising began to form. Simone the digger and his adoptive brother Kamina managed to steal and repurpose the beastmen’s robots for their own revolution, leading others to follow. Eventually, more and more of humanity comes out from underground, commandeering gunmen to take back the world from the spiral king.
Tough it lacks a specific apocalyptic event, the first half of Gurren Lagann seems like an adventurous place to experience, especially if you have your own gunman. Gunman are like most mecha, except with giant-faces and some kind of strange gimmick/ability. It isn’t hard to see the draw of joining the fight for humanity and stealing yourself an awesome gunman.
8. BREATH OF THE WILD
The latest installment of The Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild, is the first of the series to incorporate open-world gameplay, which fits perfectly with its post-apocalyptic story. The game takes place 100 years after Ganon ravaged the lands of Hyrule, with Link waking up in this new time to defeat the evil force.
If the reviews and praise for Breath of the Wild tell us anything, it’s that the game is tons of fun thanks to its open-world style. Getting to wander and gather and hunt your way into being a skilled warrior sounds like the adventure of a lifetime. This is all not to mention the fact that every trial you come up against is what makes you worthy enough to wield the master sword. Seems like one exciting quest!
7. TANK GIRL
Created by writer Alan Martin and Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett, Tank Girl stars the eponymous Tank Girl, a rude, crude, punk rock tank driver on her misadventures in the post-apocalyptic wastelands with her mutant kangaroo boyfriend. Sound’s pretty crazy, right? Well, that’s just the beginning, as the surreal storytelling with no regard for a coherent narrative makes things even nuttier in the world of Tank Girl. Of course, that’s half the fun!
There’s not a whole lot of world-building going on in Tank Girl, at least not in the original run of the comic, but from what we’ve seen, there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on. From drug use to tank fights and other military-vehicle-toting girls, life in this apocalypse seems like an unpredictable roller coaster that we’d like to ride!
Snowpeircer is a pretty unique take on the apocalypse. It takes place on a train that’s its own complete ecosystem meant to keep the inhabitants alive and safe from the frozen wasteland of the world. To make things even more interesting, the world is frozen over because the solution for global warming “worked too well” — now that’s a unique apocalypse!
Even cooler is the way the train is depicted and how “playing your part” is what keeps the train running. Though living at the end of the train like protagonist Curtis and the other “scum,” seems like a dreadful existence. Being one of the rebels, on the other hand, sounds like it’d be amazing — getting to fight people while touring the increasingly cool cars of the train. Worth the risk, we say!
In the world of Akira, a cataclysmic explosion hit Japan in 1988, starting WWIII. Thirty years later, Tokyo, dubbed Neo Tokyo, has been rebuilt. In this post-apocalyptic city, motorcycle gangs run rampant, specifically The Capsules and The Clowns. After one of the Capsules’ members, Tetsuo, gains telekinetic powers, his newfound abilities grow out of control, creating a singularity that mirrors the original destruction of Tokyo. As dangerous as the world of Akira sounds, there are some upsides.
For one thing, theres something exciting about the anarchy and freedom the motorcycle gangs experience. Even with all the danger, being in the Capsules sounds like a, pardon the pun, thrill ride. Plus, there’s the chance you could get telekinesis? Sign us up! Oh wait, there’s the whole “mutated blob” thing… We might reconsider this one.
The plot of Doom is one of the coolest backstories in video game history. When a military base on Mars experiments with teleportation technology, something goes wrong, causing a portal to hell to open, demons of all shape and size pouring though. The player takes control of the last soldier left alive after the demonic onslaught, tasked with surviving this space-apocalypse.
Okay, so technically Doom is more mid-apocalypse than post-apocalypse, but it still seems like a hell of a time. If the many interpretations of the game have shown us anything, it’s that killing demons and monsters on Mars is a never-ending adrenaline rush of excitement. There’s no shortage of variety of demons and weapons you encounter, and the need to survive would be a strong driving force to make it through hell and back… literally!
3. THE MATRIX
Since The Matrix originally premiered, we’ve learned that humans can’t actually be used like batteries, so the film’s entire premise falls apart. But, even if we could be used as batteries while being satiated with an artificial reality, would it really be all that bad? Unless you’re “the one,” we doubt the machines have any reason to make your life a living hell. For all we know, the non-rebellious humans’ lives in the matrix could be a dream come true!
Who wants to unplug and fight robot overlords if everything you need is in this virtual reality? Heck, even if the matrix isn’t a dream come true for everyone, it doesn’t exactly seem like a living hell unless you start to realize it’s all fake. And even if you do, BAM you have superpowers! We say just sit back, relax, enjoy the never-ending dream and let the robots take all the energy they need.
2. Y: THE LAST MAN
When you really think about it, there’s actually a lot of good that can come from the apocalypse of Brian K. Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man. Sure, lots of people died, but the shift in power from men to women is a good thing in the time period the comic takes place, and wether you’re a woman in a world mostly without men or a man in Yorick’s shoes, it’s win-win. The women are in charge (after centuries of a patriarchy; though admittedly the alternative is FAR from ideal) and Yorick is literally the last man on Earth, lucky him.
If you were any of the other males, you’re out of luck, and sure the world partially fell apart after all the men died, but if you’re a woman in this new matriarchy, it’s basically easy living! Sure, you might run into the occasional amazon or psychopath, but it’s definitely better than it was before…ish.
1. OLD MAN LOGAN (EARTH-807128)
In the dystopian future of the alternate Marvel comics timeline of Old Man Logan, supervillains have managed to take over the United States, dividing it up into different territories. Very few superheroes remain in this world, but after Logan kills Red Skull, former heroes and/or their children rise up to fight for freedom.
Sounds like a bit of a dreary post-apocalyptic world, but it has its merits; that is, if you’re a super-powered individual. If you’re a super-powered person (or at least a highly skilled human), you’ve got some options. You can be an enforcer and live comfortably as an underling to one of the big bosses of the new America. Sure, you’d have to sell your soul, but what were you doing with that anyway? Like most of these apocalypses on this list, Earth-807128 (as it is officially designated by Marvel) is kind of only fun if you’re in the position of the protagonist, and not so much the background characters.
Which apocalypses would you want to live in? Let us know in the comments!
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